Correctional Service officers and jail commanders around the country were urged to focus on their primary role of looking after prisoners rather than involving in other activities outside their line of duties and abusing properties and their privileges.
Acting Correctional Service Commissioner, Martin Balthazar expressed these during a mini ceremony to mark the completion of five officer’s houses at Goroka’s Bihute Jail last Friday.
He said unlike other government departments, the CIS staff have been enjoying free housing, transport, electricity, and water at the Commissioner’s discretion and these can be abolished if staff were seen to be abusing them.
“On top of these existing privileges, the O’Neill / Namah government is giving salary increment, free education, free medical service, no tax for workers receiving K10,000 per annum and below, and I do not see any reasons why officer should not look after prisoners,” Balthazer said.
His comments follows the escape of 22 prisoners from the Bihute jail last Monday, of whom 19 were remandees awaiting trial.
He said the breakout was allegedly caused as all attention was focused on the death of a female officer and also the delay in announcing the promotion of officers.
Balthazar said the reasons were unacceptable as security for the prisoners should be the paramount importance and concern of the officers and promotions was not a big issue as it was an ongoing administrative process and also that they were already enjoying more privileges.
He warned officers that they would pay a fine of K200 for minor offences and K1,000 or face dismissal for committing major offences.
“Any appeals will have to go to the National Court as Parliament has dismissed the CS Appeals Tribunal in October 2011,” Balthazar said.