30 August, 2023
“Know that you have not been forgotten and that your work is finally being recognised.”
These were the words by the Attorney General and Minister for Justice Hon Siromi Turaga this week to Fiji Corrections Service personnel and their families at Taveuni and Labasa Corrections Centers.
“This new Government recognises the great contributions you all have made in the bigger picture of national security, and i am here now to see for myself the challenges you face and also the new innovations you have put in place to improve your delivery of service.
The Hon AG shared to the local media in Labasa that he was very impressed with the resilience and standard of work carried out by FCS personnel nation wide despite the set backs of funding and their current salary structure.
The tour completes his mission to visit all 17 facilities of the FCS and see the reality on the ground and also to discuss issues to improve the delivery of services.
The AG also looked into the grave over crowding issues at Labasa and will discuss with his Judicial team options on non-Custodial sentences for first offenders and petty crimes.
“I think we have to really work together from our Police prosecutions to our sitting judges to do this.
“The current structures here in Labasa and other Remand centers are not conducive to the level of care the FCS are mandated to carry out.
And i commend the work carried out by the men and women of the FCS who have carried out their work diligently and resiliently over the years.”
Hon Turaga was also impressed with the standard of all facilities, cleanliness and level of care taken to ensure that inmates accommodations met the hygienic conditions.
“The challenges are in the areas of overcrowding which is a structural issue and needs to be addressed immediately.
He also took the time to listen to the concerns inmates had . Many shared the challenges they had faced with their appeals process whilst some felt they had been sentenced unfairly.
A matter of concern for some serving inmates were the disconnections between the offence that they committed and sentence being imposed by the court.
To address overcrowding, Commissioner Panapasa utilized early release schemes available, allocation of long termers to classified prisons in Naboro and Nasinu and she is grateful that the cours have used front end diversion to place short and new termers to the community via non custodial sentence.
Furthermore, Hon Turaga was impressed with the support rendered by spouses throughout the divisions especially in
the most far flung institutions in Taveuni and Labasa stating that the tough work of Corrections required a stable family home front to keep men and women of FCS focussed on their role of restoring lives.
He also noticed the presence of those with unsound mind and the non-availability of Psychiatrists in Labasa to run treatment programs for inmates.
He was accompanied by the Acting Commissioner Salote Panapasa, Assistant Commissioner Operations Apolosa Veve, FCS Supervisor Northern Filimoni Seru, Staff Officer Projects Tomasi Kubunavanua and Public Relations Officer Jone Sigavou.