Vanuatu Department of Correctional Services under review

PORT VILA, 18 OCTOBER 2018 (VANUATU DAILY POST) – Vanuatu’s Department of Correctional Services is undergoing a major review.

“An amendment to the Correctional Services Act, which will ensure rapists and murderers are locked up for the rest of their lives if they reoffend when they are released on parole will be taken to Parliament in November this year,” Director of Correctional Services, Johnny Marango, told Daily Post.

He said the number of reoffenders on parole that recently rocketed warrants the amendment. This includes John Etienne, the prime suspect in the murder of Monmartre student, late Aicha Maccoe and Bob Robert, the suspect in the abduction and rape of a girl at Etas.

At present, the provision for the Eligibility for Parole is stipulated in section 51 of the Correctional Services Act as follows:

‘(1) Subject to subsection (2) and subsection (3), a detainee is eligible for consideration by a community parole board for release on parole upon the expiry of a half of his or her sentence. (2) An offender sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 12 months or less, will be automatically released on parole after serving a half of his or her sentence. (3) If an offender is sentenced to life imprisonment the offender will be eligible for consideration by a community parole board for release on parole after serving 8 years of his or her sentence. (4) The period of parole for an offender shall be the longer of a period of 12 months or until the end date of his or her sentence expiry date.’

This is set to change soon.

“If the amendment gains support, all rapists and murderers will only be eligible for parole after they serve three-quarters of their sentences, not half and if they reoffend, get life imprisonment,” said Director Marango.

“The alleged killing of the innocent victims involving reoffenders has never been predicted before their release because they met all requirements and successfully applied for parole.” He said according to the current law, all offenders are being considered in the same level.

This means a murderer has the same chance for parole as someone who has been sentenced for smoking marijuana – all offenders are eligible for parole after serving half of their sentences.

Director Marango said the process of releasing someone on parole is not an easy practice because all assessments are done after all competent inmates met certain standards that qualified themselves to be released on parole.

He mentioned all sexual offenders’ attitudes were monitored very closely before the recommendation is being done for their parole. But their applications are often deferred for further and proper considerations by the board.

The Director added life in prison requires for an offender to be fully rehabilitated before he can get paroled and required to report to the office weekly or monthly.

He said sometimes the department makes home visits to verify if the parolees are keeping the rules.

Director Marango stressed that what the society is going through now is not a product of the center.

He said the death penalty is a risk and it is an abuse of many ratified human right conventions that Vanuatu is a signatory to.

He said a reoffender’s attitude reflects the life he or she was brought up in, and this remains a challenge to all parents to teach their children to be good citizens in the future.

More Stories