Drug traffickers sent to Marie-Louise jail


20-March-2012

Home Affairs and Transport Minister Joel Morgan said this in an interview yesterday, referring to the statement by President James Michel in his 2011 National Day speech in which he said drug traffickers would have to be isolated from the rest of the prison population.

In his February 29, 2012 state-of-the-nation address Mr Michel said:

“This is a reality today.  We have just transferred 20 convicted drug traffickers to the outlying island of Marie-Louise.  As many, if not more, will be transferred to the island during the coming weeks.
 
“We do not have any compassion for them.  They have committed horrible crimes.  They will serve their sentences far away from the people they have poisoned and other people they would have come into contact with had they remained incarcerated at Montagne Posée prison.  This sends another warning to all traffickers: when you are caught you will be punished severely.   On the outer islands they will learn to do productive work.”

Mr Michel warned drug traffickers that Seychelles has declared war on them.
“Watch out!  One by one they will go to Marie-Louise,” he said.

Mr Morgan said the island is one-and-a-half hours away by air, has no television or telephone reception and radio is hardly audible.

“The prisoners are being guarded by gurkhas under the command of the newly named prison superintendent Ronald Ernesta.
The island is basically a wildlife reserve but prisoners there will not be able to roam about as they will be involved in growing their own food and maintaining the island.

Marie-Louise has only three other residents; the manager, the power generator operator and the man who will be responsible for guiding the prisoners on environment management.

“Inmates will be allowed one or two visitors every six months depending on availability of seats on the boat going there,” he said, noting it is not easy for boats to dock on the island.

They will be able to talk to their relatives for three minutes once every two weeks through satellite telephone.

Visitors will be searched and accompanied by sniffer dogs to the island, Mr Morgan said, regretting that despite phone jammers and stepped-up security at Montagne Posée, some inmates have continued to get and use mobile phones, Sim cards and drugs, brought in by visitors.

“These people have been imprisoned there because they have committed bad crimes against members of the society, including children, why then would their partners or relatives take drugs to them,” asked the minister, imploring on those who support drug dealers to stop. He said others pass items to remand prisoners outside the courtrooms when security is laxed.

Mr Morgan said Marie-Louise prisoners’ rights will be respected and medical teams will visit them regularly, while those in need of medical care will be brought to Mahe when necessary.

The special prison unit funded by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime at Montagne Posée will now host pirates and hardened criminals not convicted of drug offences, but who cause problems in the main prison block, which is itself being improved for better inmate management and safety.

In his address, Mr Michel said that during meetings at community level residents have been pointing out that community life is no longer enjoyable because of thieves, drug addicts, alcoholics and other anti-social elements who “have taken the communities hostage”.

“In the New Seychelles we have to reclaim our communities from the hands of delinquents and bandits.  I will vigorously continue the relentless fight against crime and anti-social behaviour,” he said, noting drugs are the root cause of criminality, delinquency and other anti-social behaviour.

He said drugs encourage crime, destroys people’s lives and tear families apart.
“We have to intensify the fight against those criminals, give them a good correction, and rehabilitate them wherever possible,” said Mr Michel.
 

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