The Human Rights & Anti-Discrimination Commission is calling on the Minister for Justice and Attorney-General Siromi Turaga to appoint a Parole Board.
The Commission’s call comes in light of queries from prisoners and their relatives about the appointment of a Parole Board and how they could make applications to the Board for early release.
HRADC chair Pravesh Sharma said once a prisoner has served the non-parole sentence, he or she should be entitled to apply for parole.
He said parole encourages prisoners to address their offending and its causes, and to rehabilitate themselves to live in society without being a risk to the community.
“In a Supreme Court judgment delivered in August 2019, Fiji’s highest Court stated: “We would like to add that Section 49 of the Corrections Service Act 2006 establishes a Parole Board.”
“We have been informed that despite the Parole Board having been established by law passed by Parliament, it has not been constituted and operationalized.”
“We hope and trust that the rule of law will be adhered to in this regard and the Parole Board constituted and operationalized at the earliest keeping in mind the right of personal liberty in the Bill of Rights.”
“Section 9 of the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji ensures a person’s right to liberty.”
Sharma said the Parole Board would be made up of 4 persons which would include a retired Judge or senior legal practitioner; a registered medical practitioner who has experience in the
area of psychiatry; a member who has experience in areas relating to the supervision and support of prisoners after their discharge; and a member who has studied and has experience in the area of delinquency and the treatment of offenders.
He added the Parole Board would make risk assessments on whether prisoners should be released to complete the remainder of their sentences in the community, subject to parole conditions.