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A human being, regardless of the crime he has committed, should not be treated as less than a human: Court

The Division of Corrections, Bureau of Public Safety that falls under the Ministry of Justice violated human rights of an inmate by keeping him in gruesome conditions for about five months in solitary confinement. The court ordered an immediate release of the inmate as of Thursday last week.

MOJ led by Vice President Raynold Oilouch has not given an official statement on the violations occurred at the Koror Jail.

Chief of Staff Earnest Ongidobel said that the incident needs to be looked yet before releasing an official statement.

“We need to ascertain facts before making a statement,’ Ongidobel said,

In the past, Island Times has reached out to the Director of Police Alloysius Alonz requesting a meeting with inmates and look at the prison facilities which were denied multiple times.

Suzuki Temael who is serving time for assaulting a woman was put in the solitary confinement after assaulting an inmate and a police official.

“A human being, regardless of the crime he has committed, should not be treated as less than a human,” the court.

The room that Temael was put in had no light, no bedding and no toilet facilities. The times when the officials were not available to take Temael to the toilet facilities, he was made to pass stool in a garbage bag.

Temael testified in court that he was let out to take a bath for less than an hour in which he wasn’t allowed to enjoy sunlight or fresh air.

The Palauan constitution provides a fundamental right to be free from torture and cruel, inhumane or degrading conditions. In 2014, when the court conducted a site visit, it found the conditions of solitary confinement to be sub-humane in violation of fundamental right.

Since April, Temael was in a solitary confinement without a hearing and he told the court that as a result of the degrading treatment his physical and mental health has deteriorated.

The Chief of DOC Ricky Ngiraked testified that Temael has a history of violence when put among general population.

“The petitioner [Suzuki Temael[ is taken out an hour each day to shower, he is able to get sunlight when he is let out of solitary confinement because there are slats or vents where the sunlight streams through and the cell is ventilated,” Ngiraked said in his testimony.

In response, the court said that it is not unsympathetic to the challenges of maintaining the Koror jail which includes scarcity of resources to maintain the facilities in humane conditions. The court also stated that, “inmates must be held accountable for violation of rules of the jail and that violations thereof will result in solitary confinement of increasing periods depending on the violations.”

However, the court has recommended the BPS director Allonz and the warden of Koror Jail and all those acting on their behalf to stop the practice of solitary confinement as it is being currently used until the facility is equipped to be operational in humane and constitutional manner.

“The solitary condiment today as described by both petitioner and respondent confirm that conditions have barely improved and continue to be inhumane,” The court concluded. (By Eshan Kalyanikar)