He shared this sentiment recently in Buka during the opening of a week-long Custodian Management Training at the Hutjena Police Station in Buka in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
At the moment the BPS has a rehabilitation centre only at Bekut that houses a maximum of 50 prisoners but is now overcrowded.
Tokura said the BPS is working closely with the Justice Services and Stability for Development Program (JSS4D) for refurbishment of holding cells in Buka, Arawa and Buin, to accommodate more than its current holding capacity of 12 prisoners. He said a substantial amount of money will be spent to bring the cells up to a respectable level.
“With the assistance of JSS4D there’s a lot of work being done to bring the cells that we have to some standard so that we can hold as many as we can,” Tokura said, and further called on the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) to assist build a major prison cell for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
Although care of prisoners is not the responsibility of the BPS, the Correctional Service was not in a position to take care of prisoners so BPS will continue to look after prisoners on Bougainville.
Tokura said prisoners had rights so it was equally important that BPS officers knew how critical it is to look after prisoners in custody.
“The Ombudsman Commission, the State Solicitors office and all the other law enforcing agencies have been very critical of how we look after the prisoners in custody.”
He challenged all participants to have an open mind and learn as much as possible from the training offered.
“The care of prisoners in our custody is very important and we must avoid human rights abuse,” he stressed.
The Bougainville Police Chief also pointed out incidences where suspects were held in cells without being formally arrested and charged.
“This must stop,” Tokura said, and challenged his commanders, police station commanders and section heads to get their foot down to prevent such abuses.
Meanwhile, Inspector David Thatcher from the PNG–Australia Policing Partnership said it was a privilege to be working together under the name “Wok Wantaim”.
“Custody is a very important topic and plays a huge function for policing worldwide,” Thatcher said.
(Deputy Police Commissioner Francis Tokura)