GIS – 30 May 2013: The opening of the new prison at Melrose, the first high security prison constructed since independence, is scheduled for end of August. It will contain state-of-the-art technology to enhance management and security with its high security fencing, security management system and fibre optics, 652 CCTV cameras and cell phone jamming system. A special transitional team is being trained to man the prison.
The Senior Chief Executive (SCE) of the Prime Minister’s Office, Mrs K. O. Fong Weng-Poorun, made the announcement yesterday at the certification ceremony held at the Prison Training School in Beau Bassin. The ceremony, organised by the Mauritius Prisons Service, marks the end of the 8-months on-the-job and off-the-job-training of 13 female trainee prison officers. On that occasion, certificates were also handed over to other prison officers who have undergone training in quality management, pastry, food production and recognition of prior learning.
In her address, Mrs Fong Weng-Poorun stated that the year 2013 will be a landmark for the Prisons service with various reforms being implemented for a more efficient management, a dynamic rehabilitation and reintegration programme and reduction in the rate of recidivism which presently stands at 85%. She stated that Government is supporting all reforms through training, finance and infrastructural facilities.
According to the SCE, some measures have already been initiated. Those include a new radio communication system with 162 digital two-way radios implemented with the collaboration of the Mauritius Police Force and the introduction of new modes of searching visitors to beef up security and prevent entry of prohibited articles. Mrs Fong-Weng Poorun added the E-prison project, being implemented with the assistance of the Government of India to the tune of some Rs 32 m, will be completed by August 2013. The project aims, among others, at creating a centralised database of all prisoners to enhance monitoring of inmates and prisoners on parole. To that effect, four prison officers will be in New Delhi in June for training in E-prison system.
On the infrastructural front, the construction of the new open prison for women, which will be operated on a different management style giving selected detainees more autonomy, has started and will be completed by the end of 2014, said the SCE. She also mentioned that the project for the construction of a new prison to house some 60 pirates is underway in Beau Bassin and will cost some Rs 41 m. It is recalled that in July 2011, an Agreement was signed between Mauritius and the European Union (EU) for the transfer of suspected pirates to Mauritius for investigation, prosecution, trial and detention in Mauritius, pending the construction of a new prison block and a new court room on a plot of land adjoining the Beau Bassin Central Prison, to be financed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the EU respectively.
Speaking to the 13 young female Prison officers, Mrs Fong-Weng Poorun asked them to become ambassadors of the Prisons service, making the Mauritius Prisons Service a reference in the region and to commit themselves to provide quality service to the expectations of one and all.
For his part, the Commissioner of Prisons, Mr J. Bruneau, highlighted the guiding principles namely honesty, dedication and integrity which Prison officers need to adopt to meet the numerous challenges they encounter in their duties. He pointed out that one of the objectives of the Mauritius Prison Service is to develop the career prospects of all the ranks and files of the Prison Cadres by providing them with pertinent staff-development courses. He added that six senior and mid-managers are on a four-week training programme at the Department of Corrective Services Academy in Western Australia and one officer will soon leave for the United Kingdom for a training course in dog handling sponsored by the UNODC and the British High Commission.
With regard to the ten-year strategic framework of the prison sector, the Commissioner of Prisons said that the UNODC Prison Consultant, Mr W. Cullen, is presently in Mauritius to assist in the implementation of the framework. Mr Cullen is also working on amendments to the Reforms Institution Act. Mr Bruneau said that rehabilitation has already started with the introduction of MITD courses in Pastry for detainees and the improvement of the Enhanced Earnings which would assist the reintegration of inmates in civil society. MITD training to detainees in plumbing and fabrication of aluminium openings is also being envisaged, he added.
Government Information Service, Prime Minister’s Office, Level 6, New Government Centre, Port Louis, Mauritius. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website:http://gis.gov.mu