26 Sep 2005

Vanuatu's National Council of Women says changes needed in prisons

8:11 pm on 26 September 2005

Vanuatu's National Council of Women says there needs to be changes made to the prisons and the conditions under which people are kept under lock and key.

The Council's chief executive officer, Janey Ligo, says she has visited a prison and can verify that there are cracks in the walls, the roofs leak and some cells are without electricity.

She was speaking after a group of convicts asked for forgiveness for fleeing from jail in northern Vanuatu over the conditions they were being kept in.

Ms Ligo says she attended a meeting held by the government with the Vanuatu Corrections Service where improving the prisons was discussed.

She says as well as the structural work, there needs to be time and effort put in to the rehabilitation of prisoners.

"They should not be isolated. They should be allowed to see their children, their families. This is because when they're in prison, sometimes when they come out, they are totally out from the community."

Ms Ligo says families often have to apply to see prisoners and these visits are limited.

She also says prisoners should be required to work for their food and lodgings so they contribute something to the community.