24 Sep 2005

Vanuatu convicts cite poor jail conditions as grounds for escape

8:43 am on 24 September 2005

A group of convicts who fled a prison in northern Vanuatu have asked police to forgive them, saying they were forced out by poor jail conditions.

The reconciliation ceremony is believed to be the first of its kind in the 25 years since independence.

The inmates asked for forgiveness saying they couldn't live under a leaking roof and a wet floor.

The reconciliation has prompted community leaders to apply pressure on the government to upgrade the conditions of prisons nationwide.

Most of the prisons were built during the colonial period to house only a small number of inmates.

The buildings are now often overcrowded and reported to be literally falling apart.