Ratu Wiliame calls on communities to support prisoners when they are released

Ratu Wiliame calls on communities to support prisoners when they are released

By Navitalai Naivalurua , Mohammed Feroz
Friday 22/03/2024

As the rate of re-offence by prisoners over the past 12 years has been fluctuating, President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere is calling on communities to support prisoners when they are set free.

While speaking at the Macuata Provincial Yellow Ribbon symposium, Ratu Wiliame says the re-offence or recidivism rate over the past 12 years has fluctuated from a high of 7.9 percent in 2009 to 1.5 percent in 2017-2018.

He says in 2018-2019, the re-offence rate by former inmates was 2.5 percent, while in 2019-2020, it was 1.7 percent, and the number reduced again to 1.06 percent in 2020-2021 and then increased to 1.74 percent in the last financial year, ending 31st July 2023.

Ratu Wiliame says during the Presidential pardon last year, it was heartwarming to see the ex-convict meet with their families after a long time.

He says some children never saw their father when they were born, and he is grateful to have witnessed the celebration and heartwarming welcome that was shown on that day.

The President says he understands that this symposium continues to be a dynamic platform to raise concerns, dialogue, and agree on the way forward, particularly on the issue of re-offending and reintegration into society.

He adds since its inception in 2017, the Fiji Corrections Service has partnered with 10 Provincial Councils and three faith-based organisations and this partnership necessitated the signing of Memorandums of Understanding between the parties, outlining the role of each agency in the acceptance of ex-offenders.

Ratu Wiliame says it is encouraging to note that the Province of Serua, Namosi, Rewa, Tailevu, Lau, Lomaiviti, Kadavu, Nadroga/Navosa, Ra, and Ba have signed the MOU, and he has been reliably informed that the remaining four Provinces have yet to sign.

He says the Methodist Church, Seventh-Day Adventist Church, and the Assemblies of God Church are the three faith-based organisations that have signed the MOU.

He adds the 10 Provinces and three faith-based organisations have worked collaboratively with the Fiji Corrections Service in the formation of the Community Action for the Rehabilitation of Ex-Offenders network or CARE.

The President also called on the leadership of the Vanua to ensure that they are looking into the issue of drugs in their communities.

He says in previous years, only grams and kilograms of drugs were being caught, but now, tonnes and tonnes of drugs are being found.

Ratu Wiliame is also calling on parents and guardians to keep a close watch on what their children are doing and also advise their children on the impact of drugs in their lives.

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