Concerns of Overcrowding at Buimo Correctional Facility Prompts Investigation By Ombudsman Commission

The Ombudsman Commission has promptly intervened, through investigation, regarding an article published in the Post Courier newspaper on 14 August 2023 titled “Overcrowding at Buimo Jail Needs to be addressed.” The Commission’s probe aims to address and alleviate the concerns raised in the article regarding the overcrowding situation at the Buimo Jail in Lae, Morobe Province.

The article revealed that the Buimo Prison is grappling with a severe overcrowding problem. The Commanding Officer of Buimo Prison expressed concern over the escalating crime rates in Lae and various areas across Morobe Province. Chief Superintendent Michael Wundia disclosed that the jail initially designed for a capacity of 600 inmates is currently housing an astonishing 952 inmates with numbers continuing to rise. Chief Superintendent Wundia proposed the strategic relocation of inmates to prison facilities in the Highlands Provinces to address this situation.

It was also highlighted in the article that the PNG Correctional Service Headquarters Management has acknowledged the issue and its subsequent approval for prisoner relocation. Logistical challenges have however hindered the swift execution of transfers. Chief Superintendent Wundia revealed that a list of prisoners requesting transfers to other provinces to serve their sentences has been compiled, pending the necessary logistical support.

The potential consequences of overcrowding, including the risk of disease outbreaks, inadequate food supplies, and the possibility of prison escapes were emphasized in the article. Chief Superintendent Wundia stressed the urgency of prisoner transfers as a preventive measure.

Furthermore, the ageing infrastructure of Buimo Jail, dating back to the colonial era, exacerbates the situation. Chief Superintendent Wundia highlighted the deteriorating condition of the facilities and the imperative need for convict transfers. However, financial constraints have temporarily halted the transfer process.

The Ombudsman Commission, in serving its purposes under Section 218(a) and (b), and performing its functions under Section 219(1)(a) and (c) of the Constitution is now conducting a thorough investigation into this matter. The Commission aims to provide viable solutions to the overcrowding issue at Buimo Jail and, uphold the rights and well-being of the inmates. It also remains steadfast in its commitment to promoting ethical governance and safeguarding the interests of all citizens.

Inmates of Buimo Correctional Facility, Lae Morobe Province

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