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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Rove Prison remandees on hunger strike due to lengthy delays in court cases

A number of remandees at Solomon Islands' main prison in Rove, Honiara are on a hunger strike, since Monday.

More than 10 remandees from Rove Prison have written to the Chief Justice expressing concern over the length of time it's taking for their cases to be brought to trial. Some of them also want judgement on their cases to be expedited. All the inmates on hunger strike have been in remand for a lengthy period of time, some for more than three years. Most of them are facing murder charges.

Meanwhile, the Chief Justice Sir Albert Palmer has directed that all cases involving prisoners who are protesting about court delays be urgently reviewed.

The Chief Justice said the workload of the Solomon Islands High Court is at un-precedent levels. He said while just a few years ago the Court would deal with only a handful of criminal trials each year, now there are over 80 trials for the most serious of offences awaiting hearing.

He said this is the inevitable consequence of the restoration of law and order and the rejuvenation of the criminal justice system since the RAMSI intervention. However, the chief justice said despite this, no one believes that the delays being experienced are acceptable.

He said every case is now being reviewed to ensure that each is concluded as quickly as possible.

The office of the High Court says that of the 12 prisoners who have protested about delays, six are involved in cases where judgment is due within the next five weeks; four are listed for 16th March 2007 to fix a trial date; and two are already serving lengthy prison sentences on unrelated convictions.

Source: Pac Beat & SIBC

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