CS told to allow legal aid for prisoners

National, Normal


WAIGANI Committal Court magistrate Fred Tomo yesterday reminded the Correctional Services (CS) that remandees must not be denied their constitutional right to legal representation.
Mr Tomo made the remark after Kimo Kingsley, who has been remanded for allegedly aiding the Jan 12 escape of 12 hardcore criminals from the Bomana maximum security facility, complained he had been denied access to any legal aid since his last appearance.
Kingsley is the only remandee of five charged and served a police file.
He told Mr Tomo he and the others were locked up in the maximum security institute in Bomana where their pleas to the prison commander to allow for legal aid or visits from their families were bluntly denied.
“We wrote letters to the commander, asking to be moved to the main compound so that we can easily access legal aid.
“Nothing has happened; the commander’s heart is unmoved and stubborn; it is getting worse,” Kingsley said.
Mr Tomo said he had advised CS to allow the remandees to have access to legal assistance but was baffled why they had been denied their rights.
“The court cannot proceed until the remandees respond to police information.
“If they are not given the service of lawyers because they are restricted by the State, then their right to legal assistance is breached.
“How do you expect such remandees to tell the court whether the police information is true or not? Justice has come to a halt.
“Should the remandee not receive legal assistance, there would be an abuse of their constitutional rights and the court cannot go ahead to make a decision.
“If on the next adjournment the remandees are still denied their rights, I will make a formal order for them to receive legal representation,” Mr Tomo, who adjourned hearing to May 4, said.