25 Feb 2020

Rehabilitative programmes top list for Kiribati corrections reforms

10:13 am on 25 February 2020

Rehabilitative programmes top the list for reforms within Kiribati's corrections system.

Local parole board members and corrections staff have been in New Zealand discussing the reforms and ways to improve their work.

The tour is part of the Pacific parole partnership.

The chairperson of the Kiribati parole board, Betarim Rimon.

The chairperson of the Kiribati parole board, Betarim Rimon. Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

Compared to Kiribati, New Zealand's parole board is a behemoth with almost 10,000 cases dealt with last year compared to Kiribati's 21.

But Kiribati parole board chair, Betarim Rimon, said some of New Zealand's systems and best practices could be applicable back home especially as they looked to reform the country's outdated parole legislation.

"Time has overtaken the issues and new developments and culture is dynamic and people change and so there is also a need to revisit our Act and to see relevant areas to be amended to be improved [and] to be changed," he said.

Mr Rimon's New Zealand counterpart is Sir Ron Young, who also serves on the appeal courts of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

Sir Ron said most of the things they had been discussing had been procedural such as meeting with parolees face-to-face and including victims in the parole assessments.

"One of the things that we are also trying to support them on is rehabilitative programmes. At present they don't really have any. They are keen to do that and they are keen to learn from New Zealand corrections and the parole board as to what we have and how they might adapt that for use in Kiribati," Sir Ron said.

Kiribati parole board director, Abuera Uruaata, was brimming with ideas to improve their work back home.

"We will propose a change to our parole board Act. We will put up a cabinet paper to the cabinet for other processes and other matters that needs to be implemented," Mr Uruaata said.

"Because I think the only two things that matter most for parole applications is the safety of the society and the fairness of the hearings."

Kiribati parole board director, Abuera Uruaata.

Kiribati parole board director, Abuera Uruaata. Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

The Pacific parole partnership initiative is driven by Sir Ron.

"It is important to support things like parole boards because it is part of the democratic society that they all belong to. It is a way in which victims and others in the community can be kept safe and it is a way in which offenders can be rehabilitated so they can join the community again," Sir Ron said.

Along with Kiribati, Vanuatu has also been a part of the initiative and Sir Ron said they are happy to host other Pacific countries who would like to study New Zealand's parole and corrections systems.

The Chairperson of the New Zealand Parole Board, Sir Ron Young.

Sir Ron Young, the head of New Zealand's Parole Board. Photo: ©Aaron Smale/IKON Media