The National, Tuesday 31st January 2012
By ZACHERY PER
CORRECTIONAL Services officers and their families have been warned that privileges they enjoy will be stopped if they abuse them.
Acting Correctional Services Commissioner Martin Balthazar told officers at the Bihute jail outside Goroka, Eastern Highlands, last Friday that some of them were engaged in activities outside their line of duty.
The officers and jail commanders were urged to focus on their primary role of looking after prisoners.
Unlike other government departments, CS staff enjoy free housing, transport, electricity and water at the commissioner’s discretion. Balthazar said these would be stopped if staff abused them.
“On top of these existing privileges, the government is giving salary increment, free education, free medical service and no tax for workers receiving K10,000 per annum and below.
“I do not see why officers should not look after prisoners,” Balthazar said.
His comments followed the escape of 22 prisoners from the Bihute jail last Monday. Nineteen were remandees awaiting their court trial.
The breakout happened while all attention was focused on the death of a female officer.
Balthazar said the reasons were unacceptable because security for prisoners should be of paramount importance.
He said concerns raised over promotions were not a big issue as it was an ongoing administrative process. The officers were already enjoying more privileges.
He warned officers that they would be fined K200 for minor offences and K1,000 – or face dismissal – for major offences.
“Any appeals will have to go to the National Court as parliament has disbanded the CS appeals tribunal in October last year,” Balthazar said.