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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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Recent Fiji Prisoner Escapes Blamed On Staff Shortages
Only 5 on watch during latest escape at facility with 387 inmates

By Fonua Talei

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, Nov. 20, 2012) – The shortage of manpower within the Fiji Corrections Service (FCS) has been blamed for the recent spate of prison breakout in the Central Division.

FCS spokesperson, Ana Tamani admitted that they have been experiencing a shortage of manpower, a challenge for the organization.

This revelation only came to light after four Suva Corrections Centre remand inmates escaped from the Korovou facility on Sunday night.

Two of the escapees had their freedom cut when they were re-captured by Police early yesterday morning.

The inmates from the Damanu Dorm who are awaiting trial for aggravated robbery are Viliame Tuibua, 25, Frank Konave, 21, Sanaila Tabuavula, 23 and Iowane Benedito, 24.

Konave and Tuibua were recaptured yesterday morning. Mrs. Tamani said the four escapees are alleged to have cut through the bars in their dorm before climbing the fence and escaped.

Mrs. Tamani told the Fiji Sun that five prison officers were on duty at the Korovou Prison when the incident happened.

She said the officers have been questioned following the incident.

When asked about the whereabouts of these five officers when the remand prisoners escaped, Mrs. Tamani said: "They were there on duty, but you have to remember that they were only five and we have about 387 inmates in Korovou."

She said five officers are posted for watch duties at any one shift with some of them working overtime to cover the hours. When asked about what was being done to address the shortage of manpower at the corrections facility, Mrs. Tamani said recruitment would be conducted soon.

Police spokesperson, Ana Naisoro said the taxi driver who picked up the escapees from Reservoir Road was questioned.

"Our teams in the Central/Eastern divisions are working together in our search for the remaining two inmates along with the prisoner who escaped from the Legal Aid Commission office in Suva last week," Ms. Naisoro said.

"We are pleading with friends and relatives of the escapees that harboring prisoners is a crime in itself. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the remaining escapees is being urged to contact their nearest Community post or Police Station."

The recent breakout brings to three the total number of prisoners currently at large in the greater Central and Western divisions.

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