20 May 2004

Verdict awaited in Solomon Islands jail time dispute

10:33 am on 20 May 2004

In Solomon Islands, the Public Solicitor is awaiting a High Court decision on a challenge about the legality of the number of hours that remand prisoners are being kept in their cells.

The Public Solicitor, Ken Averre, says the challenge is based on the fact that some of his clients on remand since October are being locked up for 23 hours.

Speaking on the issue, Acting Commissioner of Police, Ben McDevitt says while the 23 hour lockdown is not good, it was originally based on the prison situation at the time of the arrival of the Regional Assistance Mission.

"Having prisoners locked down for 23 hours a day, is not acceptable, but it's certainly a big step forward, in my eyes, from what the situation was here just nine months ago ."

Meanwhile, the office of the Special Coordinator of RAMSI says the lockdown is already being reviewed, with the intention of achieving eight hours per prisoner, allowed outside their cells.