By JAMES APA GUMUNO
THE Wabag police cells cannot house any remandees because it would breach the basic rights of those detained.
Wabag National Court judge Justice Graham Ellis declared last week that the condition of the cells were unfit for humans.
“If the police use the cells, they will be breaching the basic rights of detainees under section 36, 37(1) and 37(17) of the Constitution,” Justice Ellis said.
Provincial police commander Supt Michael Chare told The National yesterday the cell block was condemned by the Health Authority in 2006 before he took up his posting as the new provincial police commander in December 2007.
“When I took office, I tried several times with the authorities to have the problem fixed, but they just ignored the matter.
“Now that we cannot hold remandees in the cell, it adds a lot of burden on the policemen, affecting core functions of the police in the province.
“Everyday the policemen have to do prison runs to Baisu jail in the Western Highlands province and back.
“Police can’t hold remandees who committed serious crimes in the cells.
“Those appearing in court the next day are transported to Wabag for the night and then are transported back to Baisu,” he said.
Supt Chare said police had been spending K250 daily to refuel one of their vehicles for the transport of prisoners and remandees.
“For a double tank vehicle, K500 worth of fuel is needed daily,” he said.
He said the cost of maintaining the vehicles used to transport remandees back and forth was
also quite substantial.
Supt Chare said if the authorities had fixed the condemned cells, it would not cost them any money to transport the remandees from Baisu daily.
“It’s a very expensive exercise but we have no choice.
“We are very happy that at last the Wabag National Court intervened to direct the authorities to look into the problem.
Supt Chare said he would work closely with the National Court to have the cell blocks fixed so that remandees could be held there again.
He said the whole police station building, which was built during the colonial period, was falling apart and there was a need to build a new building.
“In the meantime, people arrested for committing summary offences are released on bail,” he said.