7 Oct 2006

Fiji High Court orders bail for prisoners held in unsanitary remand block

9:12 am on 7 October 2006

The Suva High Court has released on bail seven prisoners held for crimes ranging from murder to violent robbery.

In applications made to Justice Nazhat Shameem, Justice Anthony Gates and Justice Gerard Winter, the Fiji Human Rights Commission argued that conditions in Suva Prison remand block were inhumane and in breach of the prisoners' constitutional rights..

Justice Shameem said if any of the other 56 prisoners applied for bail, they would be given immediate consideration.

She said she accepted that such a step would create a serious law and order situation for the police, but the state of the prison block for the remand prisoners left her with no other choice.

Justice Winter said he had inspected the remand block two years ago and nothing had changed since then.

The judges were told that prisoners slept in damp, overcrowded cells infested with fleas with raw sewage from a septic tank flowing nearby amid conditions of poor personal hygiene.