The Gambia government missed the opportunity to showcase their prison condition when the UN Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment visited the country from 3 to 7 November 2014, at the invitation of the Government. The rapporteurs missed to see for themselves whether the prisons are a hell for prisoners or rehabilitation centres.
This is what The Gambia Government delegation at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on The Gambia held in Geneva on 28 October 2014, said:
Regarding the conditions of detention, the delegation mentioned that “the Ministry of Interior in collaboration with the Prison Services Department had made efforts in the renovation of the security wing and increase in size of cells and cells allocation. Practical steps to promote rehabilitation of prisoners through education and vocational training have also been taken.” Furthermore, according to the delegation, “a doctor visits the prisons on a daily basis to provide medical services to sick inmates and trained nurses are also present to attend to inmates.”
Then, what is the problem? It would have been good for the rapporteurs to see for themselves the efforts made by the Government in taking care of the prisoners. As the saying goes, “seeing is believing.” It certainly does not make sense to deny the rapporteurs access to the security wing of the prisons when the government has made so much effort. The rapporteurs would have had the opportunity to see the meals of prisoners prepared on the basis of the diet outlined by NaNA as the minister indicated at the session.
The minister also said the following about remand prisoners who have been remanded for long (some for many years) without their cases proceeding:
“It added that in 2013, special hearing dates had been organised for Mile 2 Prison remand wing inmates, that trials had been conducted expeditiously and that persons who had no sufficient evidence supporting their charges had been acquitted and discharged.”
Foroyaa will find out about this from the ministry of the Interior and inform the public accordingly.