"We are Going to Transform the Prison System" - Sierra Leone Internal Affairs Minister Says
By Abdul Hassan Fackie (pictured),
Freetown, Sierra Leone.
The Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Edward Amin Soloku, has said that the Government of Sierra Leone is going to transform the prison system right across the country to make it humanly habitable and a place of correction for those who are sent there as prisoners.
Talking to 40 Acres Canada in an exclusive interview, Mr. Soloku stated that the government under the leadership of President Julius Maada Bio is aware that the living conditions in prisons right across the country are very deplorable and adversely affects the well-being of the inmates.
This, he noted, was counter productive to the objectives of putting in jail as prison is meant to punish people and reform them and not subject them to conditions that will negatively affect their health that most times leads to their deaths.
He also revealed that government is also thinking about relocating the main Pademba Road Prison in the heart of Freetown as well as building more prisons in order to decongest the prisons in the capital city as well as those in most district and provincial head quarter towns.
"The Pademba Road Prison was built to house about three hundred and twenty four inmates but tight now is is holding over two thousand people," he disclosed, noting that such over crowding was a breeding ground for the outbreak and spread of contagious diseases as well as a situation that will encourage criminal activities, homosexuality and lesbianism.
Mr. Soloku further disclosed that government was also actively thinking about introducing skills training as well as creating jobs for the inmates.
"If we are to undertake training inmates to get life skills, create jobs for them as well as give them recreational facilities we will need a lot of space to do that," he averred.
He also revealed that his Ministry also intends to engage the Police and the Judiciary to see how they can give them support to enable them try cases as speedily as possible in order to expedite justice.
"For someone to be in remand and have his or her case drag on for five, six seven eight to ten years is both unfair and unacceptable," he noted.
He appealed to all Sierra Leoneans to be law abiding and avoid doing things that will take them to prison.
Two years ago, in an initial attempt to transform the prison system the All Peoples Congress (APC) government changed its name from the Sierra Leone Prisons to the Sierra Leone Correctional Service.