Remand and sentenced female inmates at the Kenema prisons have unearthed some of their ordeals during a field visit to the Kenema Prison by the Open Government Initiative (OGI).
A former Midwife at the Bo Outpatient s Clinic explained that she was sentenced 8 years for manslaughter of a school girl and that after being sentenced in 2007, she filed an appeal that same year, but up till now her appeal has not been heard.
She further explained that since her sentence, life has not been easy for her two children and went on: “My daughter has been impregnated and my son has dropped out of school”, she cried”, and called on the judiciary for her appeal to be heard.
Another lady from Small Sefadu in Kono District who was sentenced to four years imprisonment and fined five hundred thousand Leones for stealing a mobile phone, said she has served two years and two months and was further ordered by the court to pay three million, five hundred thousand Leones to the complainant for the mobile phone, after serving her four-year jail sentence.
There was a chilling moment of sadness at the prison when the voice of young babies were heard crying. It was discovered that they were two month-old twins lying with their mother. The facial expression of the babies sent a signal that they have changed their environment.
The mother stated that she no longer feeds her babies the way she used to because her movement has been restricted. One lady explained that she is a remand prisoner because she has to pay one million Leones.
Yvette A Sesay, Officer in charge of the female prison, explained that she uses her personal funds to buy baby food, adding that she has applied for baby food but she has not received supplies yet.
He also stated that food served to the inmates is well prepared and meets the requirements, but that they lack medical drugs.
Yvette Sesay called on the government to supply drugs, baby food and training materials. Superintendent Moses Bob Sonny of the male prison, explained that the prison was built in 1898, adding that they now have 34 Prison Officers and 164 Remand and Convicted prisoners. The ratio of Prison Officers to Prisoner, he added, is one to six.
He stated that they lack drugs and when inmates fall ill, “we (officers) use our own personal money to buy drugs for them”.
Superintendent Moses Bob Sonny noted that since the prison is a correctional centre; they lack training materials for the inmates.
Justice Abdulia Sheik Fofanah stated that most of the prisoners are in prison because their appeal has not been heard.
The Director of Gender at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Fatu Kargbo, said that the two babies in the prison are innocent and should not be in the prison.
By Abibatu Kamara