PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 September, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 September, 1998, 12:00am

On September 7 the Correctional Services Department wrote to point out a serious misinterpretation of the conclusions of the inquiry report on the Ma Po Ping Prison incident on July 27, which stated 'CSD officers were right to use excessive force to quell the violence'. On September 16 a letter headlined 'Beatings report a whitewash' appeared which stated that CSD has no right to say beating prisoners was justified.

Firstly, in our letter to you dated September 7, we stated categorically that it was never right to use excessive force even when the use of force was necessary. Secondly, in the inquiry report on the Ma Po Ping Prison incident as well as the press statement issued on August 27, there was never any mention of 'beatings' or that there was an use of 'excessive' force against prisoners.

Thirdly, in your own editorial on August 28, you stated: 'The internal inquiry into the fight at Ma Po Ping Prison last month concludes that the force used was necessary in trying to separate the combatants'.

I appreciate that the choices of words are best left to the authors. However, when such choices are misinterpreted it could lead to a serious misrepresentation of the facts, which is not only unfair to the CSD, but paints a distorted picture for your readers.

I would like to clarify that the Correctional Services Department does not condone the use of 'excessive' force against prisoners under any circumstances, nor that any person has a 'right' to use excessive force against another person for any reason.

I am disappointed that your newspaper has seen fit to publish criticisms of the CSD in the Letters to the Editor column, yet you have not given us 'equal time' to set right misinterpretations of the Ma Po Ping incident.

LEONEL RODRIGUES Principal Information Officer Correctional Services Department