November 21, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The Chairperson of Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) has lamented the dearth of personnel to manage correctional centres across the country, which according to him remains a serious challenge.
Rev. Dr. Usman Jesse Fornah stated that according to the Sierra Leone Correctional Service, the current inmate to officer ratio is seven to one officer, which exceeds the standard inmates to officer ratio of three inmates to one officer.
The HRCSL last week officially made public its 2016 report on the State of Human Rights in Sierra Leone – a document which catalogues activities undertaken by the commission in the protection and promotion of human rights.
The report, which has also been presented to President Ernest Bai Koroma, also looked into ways in which fundamental rights and freedoms in the constitution and international and regional agreements, to which Sierra Leone is a party, were observed or violated in the year under review.
“The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone is concerned that the gap in ratio poses a security threat to both officers and inmates. The Correctional Service, particularly in the rural areas, is faced with the challenge of transporting inmates to and from court sittings due to limited number of vehicles,” Commissioner Fornah said.
Rev Dr. Fornah, however, recognised steps taken by the Sierra Leone Correctional Service to construct separate correctional centre for female inmates in Bo.
He added that the increase in the number of correctional centres nationwide from seventeen (17) to nineteen (19) would help to reduce overcrowding as the number of inmates far exceeds their holding capacities.