By JULIA DAIA BORE
THE warders on duty at the time of the escape of the 12 high-risk prisoners are being held responsible for the breakout and will be dealt with within the confines of the law.
Some duty officers within Bomana failed to perform their mandated responsibilities competently and diligently, contributing to the escape from Bomana of the 12 high-risk prisoners last Tuesday, Correctional Services Minister Tony Aimo said yesterday.
“I expected them to have performed their duties under the defined rules and regulations of the Correctional Services department standing orders. Unfortunately, things went sadly wrong,” Mr Aimo said.
He said he was deeply concerned by the breakout and had directed CS Commissioner Richard Sikani to immediately lay charges against the officers who are found to have breached the Correctional Services code of conduct.
While internal Correctional Services investigations are under way, the warders will be immediately put under house arrest pending the completion of the investigations and face subsequent penalties, Mr Aimo said.
“I strongly believe that the incident that has happened was a premeditated job and I as the minister responsible will not accept such behaviour,” Mr Aimo said.
“I am very determined to establish the truth of this incident. We are working around the clock to ensure that they (escapees) are re-arrested.
“I am confident that the Somare/Temu government will assist my department in its efforts in improving the Correctional Services establishment throughout the country and recapturing of the escapees,” he said.
Mr Aimo said the continuing incidents of prison breakouts in recent times in the country were due to successive governments’ lack of funding for improvements by way of upgrading prisons and other necessary projects to cater for the constantly increasing prison population.
Also, due to the CS not adequately ensuring that the inmates left the prisons reformed to fit back into the community, he said.
Prison breakouts were most often instigated by remandees and this was in itself a telling tale where they would usually wait to be prosecuted, tried and jailed or otherwise, Mr Aimo said. All too often, the prisons were carrying more remandees in their population, with many of them waiting long periods to have their matters tried and disposed.
“The issue is a big community responsibility, not just mine, as minister responsible for CS or just that of the CS,” Mr Aimo said.
“Let me take this opportunity to thank the internal security department (police personnel) and the community at large for their support in this very difficult and trying time for my department.”
He commended acting Internal Security Minister Sam Abal and Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare for their public appeal to the escapees to voluntarily surrender to the authorities, and joined them in making a similar appeal to the escapees to surrender to police.