June 13, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRC-SL) has concluded a two -day macro- monitoring activity of the correctional facility, police station and chiefdom cell in Kabala, Koinadugu district.
Led by the commission’s chairperson, Brima Abdulai Sheriff, the aim of the monitoring visit was to assess human right situation and administration of justice in the northern district, as well as assessing how much progress has been made in the implementation of the Correctional Services Act, 2014.
In 2014, the Correctional Services Act was enacted, transforming the Sierra Leone Prisons to a Correctional Service. Also in 2015, the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners was reviewed and renamed the Mandela Rules, and in the same year, the African Commission also adopted the Guidelines on the Conditions of Arrest, Police Custody and Pretrial Detention in Africa (also known as The Luanda Guidelines), during the 56th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
During a monitoring exercise at the Kabala Correctional Centre, it was discovered that the facility was without a vehicle, thereby creating problems in taking inmates to and from the court, says a statement from the commission.
Most of the cells were without blankets and beddings, coupled with the problem of long remand periods as the Magistrate Court seats once or twice a week, the statement adds.
At the Kabala Police station, the monitors say they found out that the station was beset with numerous human rights issues.
According to the Support Officer, Alex B. Turay, the one million Leones given to the station as subvention for a quarter was not enough for their operations.
He stated that their working tools, including the Criminal Procedures Act 1965 and the Constitution of Sierra Leone, could not be accessed by them even at the Government Bookshop in Freetown.
The station was also faced with mobility problem as there are just three vehicles – one functional, one partly and the other dysfunctional – he added.
Also, at the Family Support Unit, Crime Officer, Police Constable F.I. Bangura expressed concern over the endorsement of medical certificates by the district medical officer.
He said most complainants cannot afford to pay Le30, 000, which is fees charged at the government hospital, thus the police seldom have sufficient evidence to charge matters to court, he said.
According to him, out of 82 cases reported to them in two months, only 9 were charged to court.