Children’s rights in prison a concern

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By DAPHNE WANI
A JUDGE has questioned why two toddlers forced to live with their mothers in prison are deprived of appropriate food and facilities.
Justice Panuel Mogish, pictured, who visited Bomana Prison in Port Moresby on Wednesday, told The National that human rights advocates and non-governmental organisations should be raising their concern over the rights of such children to be cared for properly, especially what food they are given to eat.
Justice Mogish said there were 30 female inmates in Bomana and among them were two innocent children.
He said the child could be taken away and looked after by relatives after turning three years old.
“But in the meantime they are not given enough nutritional requirements that their bodies require.
“They just eat the common food that every other convict or inmate eats, so if it’s rice and tinned fish, they all eat rice and tinned fish.
“They are innocent and there are no facilities here in Papua New Guinea that can look after this type of people.” Mogish said.
He said the innocent children were forced to be living against their will because under PNG laws, a child can live with the inmate mother until the child reaches three years.
“Most of the mothers do not want to leave their babies outside for others to look after and insist on taking them in the prison. It comes naturally for mothers to do that but there are no facilities to properly care for the child.”
Justice Mogish said the plight of convicted mothers with children in jail was “a very big problem”.
He said there were so many NGO groups that were investing money in wrong places.
“These NGOs should be looking at the plight of these mothers who are in jail,” Justice Mogish said.
“We see people who promote gender-based violence against women and breaches of human rights but they are not doing anything about the rights of the children.
“These children living in the prison, eating with the prisoners, sleeping and moving around with the prisoners and they automatically become the child of a criminal.”
He said they were not doing anything to protect their rights.
Bomana commander Kiddy Keko confirmed concerns raised were true and that the prison was a government institution that was serving the people of PNG.
“We need to have better facilities and roads to conduct our business,” he said.

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