February 2, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The 2015 report of the State of Human Rights in Sierra Leone has exposed serious challenges hindering the smooth running of correctional centres and juvenile detention facilities across the country, despite progress recorded over the years.
Compiled by the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRC-SL), the report highlighted overcrowding, poor hygiene condition and poor electricity supply as some of the issues in the various centres.
According to the commission, during a visit to the Freetown Male Correctional Centre in September, 2016, to assess the general conditions, they noted a total number of 1,466 inmates were in detention, which exceeded the capacity of 324 inmates for which it was established.
“The general hygiene conditions in the correctional centres were noted to be poor. In January, the HRC-SL observed that the two pit-latrines in the Bo Correctional Centre were full to the brim and the stench was unbearable. In the Freetown Male Correctional Centre, buckets were used as toilets, which posed health risk to inmates,” the report stated.
The report indicated that electricity supply remained to be a challenge in Makeni, Mafanta, Kabala, Port Loko, Kambia and Magburaka, a situation which affected the general security of the facilities, particularly the Mafanta Correctional Centre.
It commended for the Ministry of Internal Affairs to take concrete steps to improve on the toilet facilities in all correctional centres across the country, especially the one in Bo.
Also, the report lamented problems in juvenile detention facilities, indicating that the Remand Home in Bo had no vehicle to transport inmates to court or to the Approved School in Freetown and therefore resorted to using motorbikes and public transports.
“The commission noted at the time of visit that inmates did not receive education, Healthcare and Sanitary pads. We were informed that female inmates were not provided with sanitary pads and that there is no provision for training or any form of education for the inmates,” the report further noted.
However, the HRC-SL commended the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs and the Approved School in Freetown, which serves the entire country for the post detention recovery package offered to the inmates to prepare them for re-integration into their communities after serving their sentences.