6 Jan 2010

French delegations to check out New Caledonia's prison

4:03 pm on 6 January 2010

Two delegations from France due in New Caledonia this week will look at the conditions at the territory's jail which has now the highest escape rate of any French-run prison.

According to Noumea's daily newspaper, the first team to visit is made up of French members of the European parliament, led by Jose Bove, who is an anti-globalisation campaigner and unsuccessful candidate in the last French presidential election.

The second group to visit is from the French justice ministry and follows a call by the justice minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, for the Prisons Administration to study a possible restructuring of the prison.

It will be fourth such visit in two years amid growing concern at the repeated escapes from Camp Est, the latest of which succeeded on New Year's Day.

The International Observatory for Prisons has labelled the jail as the worst in terms of detention.

A review by the authorities is reportedly looking at doubling the size of the prison which was built for fewer than 200 inmates but which now holds more than 400.