Ombudsman urges abolishment of confinement cells in prisons

Ombudsman urges abolishment of confinement cells in prisons

The annual activity report of 2022 of the Office of the Ombudsman recommends that Ministry of Interior should abolish confinement cells in all the prisons as “inmates have complained of being beaten.”

The activity report was read by Bakary K. Sanyang, the Ombudsman before the Assembly’s Finance and Public Accounts Committee.

Sanyang told deputies that “confinement cells are places where prisoners complained of being beaten or ill-treated. Alternative ways of disciplining inmates should be used that do not violate their human rights.”

“Keeping inmates in confinement cells can be considered to be a degrading treatment as they do not have the required facilities such as artificial light, thus making inmates sleep in the darkness,” Sanyang pointed out.

“In both Mile 2 and Jeshwang Prisons, some of the inmates complained of being beaten by prison officers. Several inmates at the Remand Wing of Mile 2, said they were kicked, handcuffed and beaten with batons or hosepipes when they had a fight or confrontation with their cell mates or when they did not give information to officers about what happened in the cell.”

He disclosed that in pursuance of Section 11(2) of the Ombudsman Act 1997, the Office of the Ombudsman in 2022 visited prisons, police cells, immigration detention facilities and military detention facilities in different regions of the country.

The objectives of the visits, he said, were to follow up on the recommendations made in the previous years as well as to assess the treatment and conditions of persons deprived of their liberty at the time of the visits; and make recommendations for improvement and compliance with national, regional and international human rights standards.

He added that areas that were looked into during the visits included cells, food, water, health care, sanitation, treatment, activities, contact with the outside world and staff matters.

“The confinement cells at Jeshwang Prison had no artificial lights and inmates complained that the cells always got dark at night. Although the confinement cells had mosquito nets, inmates said they were disturbed by mosquitoes as the nets were not good. The confinement cells were not tiled and had no carpets,” he revealed.

“All the three prisons in the country were visited; Janjanbureh Prison was visited on 19

March 2022, Jeshwang Prison on 8 and 29 December 2022 and Mile 2 Prison on 13 and 28 December 2022.”

“The general conditions of the prisons remained almost the same as those in the previous years. They were not up to standards.”

He also noted that the cells in the three prisons were found clean and there was ventilation, natural light and artificial light. 

“Inmates at Mile 2 Remand Wing said the light in their cells could only be put on and off in the staff room at the entrance of the wing; and that officers put it on from 6 p.m. to morning. Many cells had big windows, mosquito nets, TVs and fans.”

However, he said the windows of the cells at Janjanbureh Prison had no cover and mosquitoes and other insects could easily enter.

“There were no wardrobes and chairs in the cells of any of the prisons. Inmates hung their clothes on the mosquito nets.”

Source: The Point

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