The Commission of Inquiry on Drug Trafficking Report in Mauritius has made 87 recommendations concerning prisons and 32 measures have already been implemented while 22 other measures are currently being implemented, said the Minister Mentor, Minister of Defence, Minister for Rodrigues, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, yesterday in the National Assembly.
Sir Anerood Jugnauth was replying to a Private Notice Question pertaining to prison services;control of drug trade from inside prisons; rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners; and prison infrastructures identified by the Commission on Inquiry of Drug Trafficking in Mauritius.
According to the Minister Mentor, the implementation of a few other measures will take some time as these require amendments to legislation or a major change in policy decision.
He highlighted that following the publication of the Report, the Commissioner of Prisons has set up a special committee to look into the findings and recommendations. Thereafter, as a first measure, Officers who have been named in the Report have been redeployed outside the prisons, where they do not have contact with detainees, he indicated.
Moreover, Sir Anerood Jugnauth underscored that the Prison Intelligence Gathering Officers have worked out on different possible avenues for the entry of prohibited articles inside the prisons, and that on 4 October 2018, a Circular was issued by the Commissioner for security enhancement at the Gate Lodge in all prisons.
The Minister Mentor pointed out that a series of measures have been introduced to control the entry of individuals in prisons, including visitors and lawyers, as well as the entry of prohibited items such as mobile phones and illicit substances. The measures comprise: every detainee or any person entering the prison is subjected to a body search at the Search Room and security devices; officers are lectured regularly on their prime duty; prison personnel have to carry out strip searches continuously upon detainees prior to allowing them in and out of the prison; selected officers are posted at Watch Towers; and elaboration and submission of a form to control the access of legal advisers into prisons.
As regards the Reform Institutions Act, Sir Anerood Jugnauth underlined that an amendment has been brought to criminalise the possession of prohibited articles inside prisons and for such contraveners to serve sentence consecutively when found guilty of an offence. The Ministry of Housing and Lands is currently conducting a survey of all prisons for the delimitation of zones to allow the use of mobile phones in certain specific areas, for example in residential quarters, he added.
Furthermore, he outlined a few measures being taken by the Prisons Department as regards the control of drug trade from inside prisons. These are: acquisition of another BOSS chair and a Walk Through Metal Detector Door for the Phoenix Prison; regular vehicular patrols to reinforce security along the walls both inside and outside the prison; relocation of CCTV cameras to deter pelting and installation of a new CCTV surveillance system; arrangement is being made for the compulsory acquisition of a stretch of land of 50m width on three sides of the Eastern High Security Prison for a “Buffer-Zone”; and the procurement of one drone for observation and surveillance of the prison security walls and its vicinity.
In addition, several actions are being taken to ensure the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners, namely: pastoral care and moral instruction sessions; sensitisation programme on drug use prevention; residential counselling of detainees undergoing methadone substitution therapy; medical care and psychological support; and counselling on suicide prevention and positive thinking. The Minister Mentor also indicated that every three years, two detainees are granted scholarships to follow distance learning courses leading to a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management at the Open University of Mauritius.
As regards prison infrastructures, Sir Anerood Jugnauth stated that regular maintenance and repairs are being carried out in different prisons to provide a better working environment.