Gambia Prisons: Poor sanitation, hunger and torture says inmates

One of the World’s worst prison conditions

Gambia`s Mile2 Central Prisons inmates said poor sanitary conditions, inadequate food and water, as well as torture are rife in the prisons.

Interior Minister Mr. Mai Ahmad Fatty, and Attorney General – Minister of Justice Mr. Aboubacarr Tambedou on Monday, February 13, made a visit to Gambia`s Mile 2 Central prisons situated at the outskirt of the country`s Capital City Banjul, to find out the conditions of the jails.

Gambia Interior Minister Mai Fatty

Gambia`s Interior Minister Mai Ahmed Fatty

While conducting an inspection, the interior minister vowed to institute broad reform of the prison system.  

Speaking to journalists after the visit, Mr. Fatty said he was at the facility to get first hand information on prison conditions and listen to the concerns of the inmates.

 “I am here to speak to them directly and hear from them. Prison reform is top most on my agenda.

We have to make sure people who are entrusted to us, through the judicial system are properly looked after, and we must comply with the law,” said Fatty.

He said he have seen the cells and expressed his unhappiness with the conditions he found there.

Gambia Prison Cells

Infested Mile 2 Prison Cell

Fatty said: “I am sure we can do better. I know the officers are doing their best but there is room for improvement. I will make my general assessment after; I have visited all the facilities throughout the country.”

Mr. Fatty said the rule of law particularly the protection of the fundamental rights of the citizen “must be at the very core of our prison and detention facilities”. And, added: “That is something I would ensure happens.”

 “Prisoners are Gambians and non-Gambians but they are also human beings. And so they should be treated humanely.”

The Interior Minister said The Gambia is a signatory to many international conventions and protocols, which obliged the country not to engage in any form of dehumanisation and degrading treatment of prisoners.

He said: “I’ve heard instances where prisoners said they were allegedly beaten. I think this is a situation that we cannot accept.

“When prisoners commit crime, there is a Prisons Act and there are laws to exercise our rights and authorities.

“I will declare here that we cannot accept such things. As at now, these are allegations but we will investigate.

“We’re going to be critically looking at the circumstances of our prisoners so that we can improve it; not only to focus on the punishment element, but also to see how we can rehabilitate and reform them so that they can become responsible citizens when they go out.

Minister Fatty and team on tour the Mile2 Prisons

He added: “Our concept of penal servitude is going to change radically. We’re going to focus on giving them skills and training, and education, especially juvenile prisoners so that when they go out, they will have a profession or a type of decent life.

“So that they will not resort to crime. Every prisoner has a potential to be reformed and so we want to focus on that.”

He thanked Prison Officers indicating that he knows that amongst all the institutions under his ministry, they are the least paid despite their significant contribution to the nation. He promised that he will be going to look into their conditions, so that they can also have ‘quality life.’

Meanwhile, some of the convicted and condemned inmates called on the government to improve the conditions of the prisons. They said inadequate sanitation, food, water, as well as torture are rife in the prisons.

Update: New Secretary General Appointed

Secretary General Fadera

President Adama Barrow have exercised his constitutional powers under Sections 167 of The Gambia`s republican Constitution and appointed Mr. Dawda Docka Fadera as Secretary General and Head of Civil Service with effect from Thursday, February 9, 2017, stated in a press release.

Mr. Fadera was the Permanent Secretary at the Personal Management Office in President Jammeh’s government. According to reliable information he has been working in public service, since President Jawara`s the first republic and one of the longest serving Permanent Secretaries in the former Jammeh administration. 

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