September 23, 2019
By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
With support from the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) through the US Embassy in Freetown, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Government of Sierra Leone last Friday, 20th September, commissioned the newly refurbished correctional facility at Kissi Town , Waterloo ,Western Rural District.
The UNDP deputy Resident Representative in Sierra Leone , Rokya Ye Dieng said she was delighted to be at the opening ceremony of the correctional centre to celebrate the milestone of the Sierra Leone Correctional Services.
She said the milestone is the result of hard work and fruitful collaboration and partnerships among several actors, including the Government of Sierra Leone through the Correctional Service, the US Embassy , International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the UNDP.
“This project was built on an assessment conducted by UNDP on the Sierra Leone Correctional Services (SLCS) in 2015 in the Correctional Service’s Strategic Plan aimed at addressing the dire conditions of the detention, treatment of inmates , and the safety of staff and society,’’ she said.
Rokya Ye Dieng added that through the project, UNDP in collaboration with the SLCS have refurbished another eight correctional facilities, providing them with water, improving sanitation and hygiene in Port Loko, Makeni, Mafanta, Kenema, Bo, Kambia, Kono and Waterloo which they handed over to the Government of Sierra Leone.
“Distinguish ladies and gentlemen, about 151 inmates will be moved into this facility and this will help to reduce the over population of the Freetown facilities. This project could not have reached the same levels of success without the generous support of the US State Department and the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the US Embassy in Freetown,” she said.
She thanked their partners and expressed optimism for future collaboration on similar projects.
The US Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Maria Brewer said the commissioning of the refurbished correctional centre represents a progress between the United States and the Government of Sierra Leone, and their shared commitment in improving the criminal justice system and protecting of human rights.
“Since 2016, the United States has welcomed 4 delegations of Sierra Leone Correctional Service Officers to the International Correctional Management Training Centre at Colorado. This year’s delegation is presently in Colorado for a two weeks Corrections Institutional Management course so that they can improve their knowledge and see with the US federal system first hand,’’ she said.
The US Ambassador to Sierra Leone further said the renovation of the waterloo correctional facility is an important step towards reducing the overcrowding prevalence in many correctional facilities across the country.
Keynote Speaker of the Program, Minister of Internal Affairs Edward Soloku, said it is indeed another gratifying moment to have the opportunity on behalf of government to commission the pre-trial and simulation centre, adding that the commission of the correctional facility couldn’t have come at a better time.
“On behalf of his Excellency the President Rtd. Brig, Julius Maada Bio and the Sierra Leone Peoples Party led government, let me express my sincere thanks and appreciation to INL, under the auspices of the American Embassy in Sierra Leone and the UNDP for their unflinching support to the Sierra Leone Correctional Service in consolidating the gains that has emanated from the project from Prisons to Corrections,’’ he said.
The minister encouraged the leadership of the SLCS to make the best use of the UNDP Project, adding that, evidence of reforms is bound from the rehabilitation of the Mafanta Correctional Centre.
“On behalf of government let me assure the US ambassador, and the UNDP country representative here represented in Sierra Leone by his deputy that your intervention in governance reform, security and civil society empowerment in Sierra Leone will ever remained in the heart and mind of Sierra Leoneans for a long time to come. Let me therefore continue to appeal to you for your continued support to the New Direction Agenda,’’ Minister Soluku lamented.
On his part, Director General SLCS said the commissioning of the pre-trial detention and simulation centre at Kissi Town is another ground-breaking moment in the transformation from Prisons to Corrections.
“Please note that some of the activities listed below have been completed whilst others are ongoing. Reviewing the Correctional Act of 2014 and the Prison Rules of 1961, an Accommodation Master Plan has been developed to determine the capacity of all correctional centres across the country,” he said.
He added that they have developed an Industry Master Plan to determine the capacity of the resources at the disposal of the Service which could be used to generate revenue for the State’s coffer.
The SLCS Boss further said the commissioning of the pre-trial detention and simulation centre will not only strengthen the capacity of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service, but will also directly contribute meaningfully to the achievement of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with specific reference to Goal 16, which promotes a peaceful and inclusive society through, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, as outlined by UNDP in 2015.
“I also want to express delight over the fact that this centre will help to decongest the maximum correctional facility at the Pademba Road as it is no secret that the Pademba Road Maximum Correctional facility is not only overcrowded with inmates, but overdue for relocation,” he said
He noted that the centre has been constructed in the precincts of their training school because of the geographical location of the beautiful environment, coupled with the fact that it will give their future trainees and recruit officers the unique opportunity to acquire practical skills in handling inmates in Correctional Centres.
Joseph Lamboi appealed to the Waterloo Community members to support the officers that would be working in the facility and expressed thanks to the Internal Affairs Minister for his role and support in the ongoing reforms at the department.
He reminded him that the commissioning of the facility was going to add up to the several requests they are making regarding vehicles, healthcare needs, increase in budgetary allocation and the timely access to it among host of other needs.