A no exception rule is being applied to ensure compliance of policies and procedures in the Division of Corrections or Koror Jail says Director Ismael Aguon of the Bureau of Public Safety. He says this is to ensure that the rights and privileges of inmates are protected.
The Ministry of Justice is working on improving the conditions of the Koror Jail to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling, price but aside from the physical appearance and conditions of the jail, help concerns about the policies and procedures of the jail remains.
The November 2014 ruling stated that Koror Jail violates Article 4 Section 10 of Palau’s Constitution that prohibits torture, web cruel or degrading treatment or punishment. This ruling stemmed from a petition filed by an inmate who was held in solitary confinement for three consecutive weeks where he was forced to urinate in plastic bottles and defecate in plastic bags.
He was confined to this dark room with overpowering stench of urine and feces 24 hours everyday for three weeks with the exception of a 30-minute shower he was given, despite the fact that Koror Jail’s policies and procedures allowed him at least an hour outside of his cell each day.
A testimony from Lieutenant Ricky Ngiraked of DOC during court appearances for this case disclosed that allowing a prisoner out does not depend on the prisoner’s needs, but whether there is manpower to do so.
Director Aguon told OTV during a phone call interview that all of Koror Jail’s policies and procedures would be followed with no exception. He says in terms of the solitary confinement, a logbook will be maintained to make sure that inmates allocated one-hour is being honored. Reports will also be submitted to the DOC Chief and the Director for review.
Construction of a bathroom and shower-room, concrete beds for each cells and new doors and lighting fixtures for the solitary confinement quarters of the jail are set to begin soon.
A status conference on a separate case regarding the conditions of the solitary confinement was held on January 23, 2015. In his order, Associate Justice R. Ashby Pate reports the “good faith negotiation” between both the petitioner and the Republic.
He also reports that the temporary habeas corpus filed by inmate Sukuzi Temael will remain despite the ongoing work to improve the jail. The next status conference hearing is scheduled for March 23, 2015.