Disgraceful cell conditions

Editorial, Normal

The National,Wednesday March 23rd, 2016

 IF the condition of cells in one of Port Moresby’s main police stations can only be described as deplorable and quite frankly unfit for human inhabitation, imagine what the situation is like for police stations around the country.

National Capital District Metropolitan Superintendent Benjamin Turi appealed to business houses and the city’s politicians to help fix, refurbish and maintain the Boroko police station holding cells which are currently in an appalling state.

Those unfortunate enough to have seen the inside of these cells for a few minutes let alone spend days and weeks in them can only speak of the depressing and disgusting atmosphere that they have had to endure.

“Which human being would like to stay here for at least an hour?” Turi asked while taking the media during a tour of the cell blocks.

“We can’t stand it. 

“I believe we have breached a lot of human rights. 

“What we have here is unfit for humans to live in.”

These are damning words coming from a lead police officer and must cause a reaction from the state and those in the police hierarchy to do something about the situation. 

Some might say that criminals or those charged with crimes deserve to stay in such horrendously unkempt facilities but is it not in the police’s best interests to keep a reasonably clean and healthy environment where in detainees can be held while waiting due process.

One can only imagine what the Australian Federal Police personnel stationed at the Boroko Station think of the cells. 

The Royal Papua New Guinea Police Constabulary surely has a responsibility to their community to ensure there is some kind of standard kept. 

It is safe to assume that at the moment the standard of the Boroko cells would be in violation of human rights.   

Supt Turi on an inspection of the cells at Boroko, which is incidentally right in the middle of one of the city’s busiest business districts, felt compelled to make a public call to companies and even the local MPs to do something about the sorry state of the Boroko Station cells.

“I am appealing especially to the National Capital District and Central MPs to help renovate the cell blocks because their people are the ones detained here,” Turi said.

Turi said the facilities in Boroko and elsewhere in the city needed to be of the best quality such as those found in a country like Australia.

Perhaps the biggest indictment on the system and the force was when Turi candidly stated that the cells at Boroko had been built in the 1950s – colonial times if ever there were any – and had not been maintained properly over the years.

It is easy for the public to not give this problem a second thought because of the nature of the job police are required to do and the type of people that more often than not come to occupy the cell blocks.

But even saying or thinking that does not negate the fact that we are still dealing with human beings.

One wonders if the holding cells in stations around Papua New Guinea are the only places that need urgent overhauls and whether the problem stretches to the jails across the country? 

After all isn’t a jail just a bigger series of cell blocks? 

Could one surmise that this is just could be a contributing factor to why there are mass breakouts on a periodical basis. 

Maybe the remandees and prisoners can only tolerate living in such conditions for so long. 

This would certainly merit a study of some sort.

The other question is how would an institution that calls itself the correctional service be able to properly carry out of function if it cannot even meet basic needs of its prisoners, one of which is to be kept in an environment that is not detrimental to their health as well as their mental state.   

Overcrowding, poor and in some instances no sanitation, next to no ventilation and a lack of access to water and other basic amenities have been the challenges face by the poor wretches who have the misfortune of being held in this cell block. 

When will they be treated like human beings?