The Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission wants the Fiji Corrections Service to remove its policy that written correspondence has to be submitted by them, lawyers and other organisations that defend human rights, for permission to visit prisoners or those in remand.
HRADC Chair Pravesh Sharma said they are requesting the Office of the Attorney-General to intervene and advise the FCS.
He said they are often contacted by prisoners and those in remand to visit them for investigation or inquiry.
“Section 20(2) of the Corrections Service Act 2006 empowers Officers of the HRADC to visit prisons and prisoners for the purpose of undertaking investigations or inquiries in accordance with the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Act 2009.”
“The Fiji Corrections Service’s policy is contrary to the interests of justice and to the long-standing practice that prisoners or remandees could be visited by their lawyers and human rights defenders without an appointment.”
Sharma said the policy is impractical since sometimes a lawyer may wish to consult his or her client just prior to the client’s case being called in court or to have the client sign documents such as an affidavit in support of a bail application or a petition for leave to appeal.
“The policy is also a bar to unannounced visits by human rights defenders to monitor the conditions of prisons and to check on the welfare of prisoners and remandees,” he said.