23 Aug 2006

Fiji police commissioner urges action on prison reform

1:59 pm on 23 August 2006

Fiji's police commissioner, Andrew Hughes, says the government needs to put more emphasis on the planned prison reform.

The revised Prisons and Corrections Act was passed in March, but has yet to come into effect, and resources need to be allocated.

Mr Hughes says given the appalling conditions in Fiji's prisons, the government must act as quickly as possible.

"This is going to be one of the key challenges for government to fund the necessary reforms in Fiji prisons and correctional services. At the moment the facilities are very run down and everybody is aware of this. It is on the government's agenda, but where my concern lies, is the pace of the reforms. Government is talking about a five-year programme. I believe that that is too long. This needs to be raised up in the priority of government."

Mr Hughes says a new prison facility and a focus on rehabilitation will make conditions better for prisoners and their guards.

He says the funds should come from revenues, but he says donors might also be willing to support the effort.