By JIMMY KALEBE
A GROUP of men on remand in a prison – some who have been there for up to 10 years – to await their court hearings or sentencing staged a protest yesterday, calling for justice to be served on them.
Warders at the Buimo Prison in Lae tightened security as more than 650 inmates joined those on remand in a protest inside prison. They also announced their decision to boycott all sittings of the National Court until they were satisfied with the response from the Government on their grievances.
Prison commander Supt Michael Wundia told The National that all the inmates sat in protest in support of those on remand, some of whom had been waiting for between five and 10 years for the hearing or completion of their cases.
Some have been awaiting sentencing or the confirmation of their trial details.
“The prisoners do not have any differences with us,” said Supt Wandia.
“They planned this strike to send a message to the law enforcement agencies that they need justice.”
The prisoners are blaming the law enforcement agencies for delaying justice on their cases, reiterating the legal maxim that justice delayed is justice denied.
The issue had been raised before by prisoners and prison authorities as the main cause of mass breakouts.
Supt Wundia said the prisoners wanted an audience with a judge in Lae to hear their views.
“At the moment, some cases have gone through trials, some are yet to be completed, while others are awaiting sentencing or a decision from the National Court.”
Supt Wundia said all National Court sittings for Buimo prisoners yesterday were cancelled after prisoners refused to attend.
Meanwhile, a source told The National that 173 of those on remand had been waiting for between five and 10 years at Buimo for justice to be served on them.
“The prolonging of cases by the courts have resulted in many problems faced by the Correctional Services or the prisoners.
“One of the main issues is jail breaks,” said the source.
Early this year, Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika challenged members of the judiciary to make “justice accessible to all in a timely, cost-effective and efficient manner”.
Last year, he put in place steps to reduce the backlog of cases such as increasing the frequency of sittings of the Supreme Court and National Court.
“Judges need to dispose of more cases by hearing the evidence and writing the decisions soon after the trials.”
By JIMMY KALEBE