The Assistant Director of Prisons Dennis Harman has disclosed that the official amount for three square meals a day for one prisoner at the maximum security Pademba road prisons is one thousand eight hundred and eighty Leones only (Le1,880.)
Mr Harman made this disclosure at the opening ceremony of a two-day training session organized by ‘Prison Watch’ on the topic: ‘Human Rights Approach to Detention Management Looking at the Special Court Model.”
Mr Harman confirmed an annual death rate of 20 prisoners, who died as a result of malnutrition related diseases.
He however played down the number of deaths saying that “if you have over 2,000 as a prison population and just 20 died… [no cause for alarm]”
Mr Harman also disclosed that the prison is grossly understaffed adding that they have instituted strict security measures at the maximum prison because of the sensitive accused persons, the prison now has under its watch.
He furthered, “we have evidence that some counsel [lawyers] tried to traffic [restricted items] to the cocaine accused, but we’ve warned them.”
Mr Harman maintained, “Human rights approach to detention management is a very important phenomenon considering that the aspect of good governance all over the world hinges on how best human rights are upheld and maintained (and) it is for this reason that the United Nations peace keeping office decided to include in one of its various department an area specifically for correctional duties that is the department for correctional facilities.”
Superintendent Nepor S Senesie in his statement explained that the Sierra Leone Police had made great strides in its performance, including the detention management system.
“We have been able to win the confidence of our communities as could be seen from the high incidences of ‘Arrest and Brought In cases’.
He disclosed, “we now have a heavy case load because our people trust us to give them justice, fair play and professionalism.”
“Our people no longer fear us, but they only have respect for law and order, and that’s the reason you see me a senior police officer, carry no arms,” he stated.
The Human Rights Commission’s representative, Mr Sam Edwards gave a fearless analysis of the deplorable state of detention centers in Sierra Leone.
“As a commission, we strongly believe that the way societies treat those who have been deprived of their liberty is a test to their commitment to human rights,” he said.
Prison Watch Programme Coordinator, Mambu Fedika in his statement noted that “a great African statesman once said, ‘one can truly know a nation when you are inside a prison. And you can judge a nation best by the treatment meted out to its most vulnerable citizens that is it prisoners.”
The Chief of Detention Special Court, Mr Ray Cardinal explained why human rights and detention management and admonished participants to copy the Special Court model
By Ophaniel Gooding