The National, Wednesday 4th January 2012
PRISONERS are calling on the government to reintroduce the Parole/License and Power of Mercy Committee.
A letter, dated Sept 29, 2011, signed by four regional representatives was handed to Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah during his visit last week to Bomana prison outside Port Moresby.
They agreed they had respect for the justice system but said they saw a deliberate breach of their constitutional rights by not exercising the avenue of parole, licenses and the power of mercy enacted by parliament.
The representatives Buka Kanda (Momase), Charlies Kana (NGI), Alois Erebebe (Highlands) and Philip Vaki (Southern) – asked the government to see that their rights were protected with the re-instatement of the parole, license and power of mercy system.
“We believe the Parole and License Act was enacted by the Parliament and is basically our right as prisoners and not a privilege,” they said.
They said the parole system was slow and stagnant and been suspended or halted for an indefinite period since 2008.
“We believe that NEC has the prerogative to establish a Power of Mercy Committee upon the advice of the Attorney General’s Department.
“This system was used to release former government minister Nahau Rooney and ever since then it has been dysfunctional and extinct,” they said.
The regional representatives of prisoners said they were mindful of the fact that they deserved to be punished for the crimes they had committed.
The leaders said they believed and have great confidence in the government that it would help them.
Namah challenged the prisoners to be honest and trustworthy when they returned to their communities.
“The onus is on you individual prisoners, not the government or Correctional Services officers,” he said.
Namah said before he would push for the re-introduction, he wanted an assurance or guarantee from the prisoners they would not abuse the
system when they left jail.