The National, Tuesday 30th April 2013
MINISTER for Correctional Services Jim Simatab has clarified a statement by Community Development, Youth and Religion Minister Loujaya Toni on the sex needs of prisoners.
Simatab said the misconception was contained in a Post-Courier report quoting Toni, which called on Correctional Services hierarchy to allow low-risk prisoners to have access to their spouses as a way of lowering the incidents of jail breaks and sex offences by escapees.
“First and foremost is the fundamental difference between congenial sex between two consenting parties and rape. Rape is a crime because it is a sexual act committed with use of violence. Furthermore, there is no hard evidence to prove that a prison escapee will become a rapist, or become a serial offender of that sort,” Simitab said in a statement.
“Secondly, the law does not prevent low risk detainees from taking leave from prisons, so that they can have access to their families and village communities.”
He said this was made possible through the Correctional Services Act of 1995, which allowed the CS commissioner to approve leave of various kinds, whether for weekends, sick, compassionate, education or work, to low risk prisoners with conditions.
He said this had been going on for 20 years now since the legislations were changed to allow leave for low risk prisoners.
“As minister responsible, I do support humane treatment of detainees in custody as they are PNG citizens incarcerated, but are in need of reformation and rehabilitation. All detainees are classified as low risk prisoners upon their custodial sentence. This personal status of detainee is only approved by the commissioner.”
Simitab added that Toni, who is also the Lae MP “is a passionate supporter of the work the CS is doing at jails in the country” and her statement “may have been taken out of context”.
He also acknowledged Toni’s significant level of support through funding in upgrading facilities at the Buimo jail near Lae city.