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Friday, August 10, 2007

Solomon Islands Committed to a Modern Corrections System

by Jeremy Miller

The Minister for Police and National Security, Justice and Legal Affairs Hon. Issac Inoke yesterday emphasized that Solomon Islands Prisons Service is committed to the vision of a modern correctional service.

He made the comments at the closing dinner of the Pacific Corrections Conference which has been hosted by Solomon Islands with assistance from the Regional Assistance to Solomon Islands. The conference has brought together the heads of Pacific corrections services to talk about the challenges of providing a safe and secure rehabilitation environment for prisoners.

“The sharing of our experiences in prison and prisoner management at this conference gives us all new insights and helps us achieve this vision. This exchange is essential in developing modern corrections systems across our Pacific region”, Mr inoke said.

Mr Inoke said the Conference resolution for the formation of the Heads of the Pacific Islands Correctional Conference Group is a major development.

“This Group will strengthen our ability to share ideas and develop new approaches in the future, and is an important and commendable outcome of the Conference”, Mr Inoke said.

RAMSI Special Coordinator Tim George, who also spoke at the closing dinner, invited Pacific Island countries to send more people to work with the Regional Assistance Mission.

Mr George told the audience, drawn from 13 Pacific Island countries, that Pacific Islanders are already performing valuable roles in many areas of the mission, and that the mission would also welcome participation by corrections officers from Pacific Island countries.

“Corrections services across the region face many common challenges such as managing special groups of offenders like women, children, or people living with HIV/AID; building a professional workforce and developing effective prisoner rehabilitation strategies”, Mr George said.

“As a region, there is much that we can learn from each other – and the Solomon Islands in partnership with the Regional Assistance Mission has a good story to tell in this regards ”, he said.

Mr Inoke said he wanted Pacific Islands to speak with a united voice at the upcoming Asian and Pacific Conference of Correctional Administrators in Vietnam.

“This will ensure other countries realize the unique challenges that smaller Pacific Island nations face. Participants at the Vietnam conference will then also recognise the great achievements that have taken place in this region”, he said.

Commissioner of Solomon Islands Prison Service, Barry Apsey, said Solomon Islands had had a unique opportunity to work in close partnership with RAMSI to improve its corrections facilities.”

“This partnership has given us a lot of experience in improving security and moving the focus of correctional facilities to rehabilitation of the prisoner,” Mr Aspey said.

In four years the Solomon Islands has developed new prisons legislation called the Correctional Services Bill, introduced new programs, trained staff and begun work on rebuilding outdated provincial prisons.

Mr Apsey said Solomon Islands now has a correctional system that is up to date with international standards of security and fairness.

Mr Aspey said the conference had been a great chance for Solomon Islands prison staff to share their experiences with others and learn from their experiences.

The conference was attended by Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Cook Islands, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau.

Source: RAMSI

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