By Yankuba Jallow
Many prisoners yesterday protested against the security personnel at the Kanifing Magistrates Court.
The churning up came about when one of the prisoners exclaimed ‘what injustice are we facing in detention’ and he was later joined by the others.
The police at the initial stage were forcing them to remain silent but the enraged prisoners did not pay heed. One of the policemen who was the most active in forcing them to remain silent wanted to slap one of the furious prisoners but he quickly withdrew.
The prisoners were chanting that they have been in the remand wing for more than a year without stepping their feet in any court of competent jurisdiction. The prisoners who are believed to be facing misdemeanour cases such as theft and slander among others sounded off that their rights have been infringed and that they are not been treated fairly.
This happened in the presence of some senior lawyers who also contributed to calm them and promised to look into their claims from the office of the Attorney General.
“I have never appeared in court even once for more than a year” said most of them.
“I am in detention for more than 9 months” said few of them.
“I have never set my feet in court for 6 months now” said 3 of them.
“There many people like us who have never stepped their feet in court,” they all said.
The Constitution provides for a fair hearing and speedy trial for all.
The revolt happened in the absence of the Principal Magistrate, Hilary Abeke, but when he came he addressed the security personnel present. He said there are some cases that are prolonged and not long ago he had dismissed a case that begun in the year 2013. He asserted that there are some cases that have not been proceeding for the past one year.
The Magistrate said in the interest of justice, he has been engaging the prosecution and the prison authorities to come early in the morning as early as 8 am to deal with such cases but yet when he comes, he finds no one in the court. He further stated that he has also told the prison authorities to release the prisoners at 8:30 am to come to court. He ordered the prosecutor to ensure that the accused persons are brought to court.