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18.6.2020 - Misused and Abused : The Caretakers of Punishment

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Two prison warders were prosecuted in the Magistrate’s Court today for breaching a rule under the Prisons Rule which prohibits trafficking with prisoners on three different occasions between February and April 2019. Warder 662 Azman Ilham bin Hj Md Noor and Female Warder 622 Siti Naemah binti Haji Lilah were charged for conveying letters without lawful authority between a male prisoner at Maraburong Prison, Wong Soon Teck, and a female prisoner at the Women’s Prison Institution in Jerudong, Rannie Labu. Wong and Rannie are married and were serving imprisonment sentence in separate prison institutions.
Female Warder 622 Siti Naemah pleaded guilty to the three charges against her. Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Dayangku Didi-Nuraza Pengiran Abdul Latiff informed the Court that communications between prisoners and their relatives are only allowed according to the provisions of the Prison Rules. Letters can only be sent and received through the Record Unit of the Prison Department.
Investigations carried out by the Anti-Corruption Bureau revealed that sometime in February 2019, Female Warder 622 Siti Naemah received from a fellow prison warder attached at the Maraburong Prison, a letter written by Wong to be delivered to Rannie. When she reported to work at the Jerudong Prison on the following day, she delivered the letter to Rannie. She did so behind a table so that it is hidden from the view of other prisoners and prison officers. She then provided Rannie with pen and paper to reply to the letter.
She took the reply letter and passed it to the prison warder attached at the Maraburong Prison. The letter eventually reached Wong.
Again in April 2019, Female Warder 622 Siti Naemah received another letter from the prison warder at the Maraburong Prison to be passed to Rannie. The letter was written by Wong who was still in prison. She subsequently delivered the letter to Rannie at the Jerudong Prison when she was on duty at the prison cells. She called Rannie to the wardress toilet and gave the letter to Rannie. Again, she gave a pen and paper to Rannie for her to write a reply but Rannie did not manage to do so because another wardress walked in.
The DPP submitted that as a prison officer, Female Warder 622 Siti Naemah had a duty to supervise and monitor the activities of prisoners to ensure that the Prison Rules are enforced. Instead, she had repeatedly neglected her duties when she allowed the prisoners to bypass the rules on prisoners’ communications. Her actions have the potential of eroding the trust placed in prison officers to rehabilitate prisoners.
In delivering her sentence, Chief Magistrate Pengiran Masni Pengiran Haji Bahar considered the offences as serious. The Second Defendant’s acts have an “impact on the welfare of the prisoner and the national security of the prison”. She found that rules regarding the writing and sending of letters by prisoners are put in place to discourage any undesirable communications. She further stated a stern approach has to be taken for those who fail to abide with such rules. A deterrent sentence has to be imposed in order to send a clear message to other officers that such disobedience that could jeopardise the safety of prison will not be taken lightly.
Female Warder 622 Siti Naemah was sentenced to 2 months’ imprisonment.
Warder 662 Azman Ilham informed the Court that he was not ready for his plea to be recorded. His case will be mentioned again on Monday, 22nd June 2020 at 2 p.m.