Salone News

Sierra Leone Prison Report

25 June 2007 at 21:41 | 199 views

The Executive Representative of the Secretary-General in Sierra Leone, Mr. Victor Angelo, recently formally presented a report entitled ‘Behind Walls: An Inventory and Assessment of Prisons in Sierra Leone’ to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Pascal Egbenda, in a brief ceremony held at the UNIOSIL Headquarters in Freetown. The report is aimed at encouraging the Government of Sierra Leone to improve on the state of prisoners rights.

The assessment involved physical inspection of all 13 prisons in the country and interviews with prisoners and prisons’ staff. It highlights that though the 13 prisons in the country have a combined capacity of 1495 detainees, there are a total of 1693 persons detained as of 13 April 2007. Among them, 20 were in death row of with one being a woman. In total 3.5% prisoners are women and 53% are non-convicted.

The report depicts overcrowding and squalid living conditions including provision of inadequate food; clothing; hygiene and sanitation; and irregular supply of basic medication as major challenges facing the prisons.

Presenting the 93 page document, Mr. Angelo noted that prisoners’ rights are a human rights issue which failure to protect constitutes a threat to peace and stability in the country. “In a country that has endured a decade-long war, peace consolidation is only achieved once all the potential threats to stability are addressed. The failure to protect and promote human rights for a particular group of people is one such threat.”

Receiving the Report on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone, the Internal Affairs Minister described prison institutions as centres for rehabilitation for offenders of law and order with the aim of transforming them into more responsible and useful citizens, taking their right place in society and contributing meaningfully to national development.

Meanwhile, UNIOSIL has already put in place a mechanism for emergency relief assistance to the prisons, and from a long term perspective, is supporting the government to develop a project to
strengthen the prisons through the UN Peace Building Fund. Furthermore, UNIOSIL has been conducting training programmes for prison officials, which is one of the recommendations of the prisons assessment report.