By: Ndey Sowe
Superintendent Momodou Lamin Ceesay, the Spokesperson of the Prisons Department, has on Tuesday April 9th 2019 emphasized that Government needs to do more to improve the conditions of prison inmates in the country.
Superintendent Ceesay who said they are responsible for managing the prisons in the Gambia, made this statement during a press conference held at the GPS head office at Mile Two in reaction to some of the concerns raised by inmates at the Janjanbureh prisons in the Central River Region.
The concerns were raised during a recent visit to Janjanbureh prisons by the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC.
It could be recalled that Foroyaa Newspaper reported on the visit of the TRRC to Janjangbureh Prisons, where inmates raised concerns regarding missing Court appearance days, lack of mosquito nets, inadequate toilet facilities, the poor state of their conditions and the challenges they faced in getting milling machines, among others.
According to Superintendent Momodou Lamin Ceesay, the Spokesperson of the Prisons Department, the purpose of the press conference was to throw light on issues and challenges raised by inmates of the Janjanbureh prisons.
“As an institution, we felt it is necessary to shed light on the concerns and issues raised during their visit to those stations,” he said; that Government has the sole responsibility of dealing with prison improvement in the country, such as the betterment of their conditions raised by the prisoners at Janjanbureh.
He deliberated on the issues raised by prisoners such as pardon to be accorded to prisoners, the state of their mattresses, missing Court days, as well as the doors and windows of the prisons, and mosquito nets, among others.
On the issue of pardoning prisoners, Superintendent Ceesay said according to Section 82 of the 1997 Constitution, these powers are vested on the President, to accord pardon to inmates after consultation with committees; that these committees include the Gambia Prison Service Council, and the Presidential prerogative of mercy committee, the Prison visiting committee and the Ministry of Justice, as the principal advisory authority to Government, in terms of legal issues.
Explaining the pardon procedures, Superintendent Ceesay said the pardon goes through various processes, which includes the office of the president, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of the Interior and the GPS; that after exhausting the stages to give pardon, GPS will prepare a list of inmates for pardoning; that the pardoning has some criteria they observe.
“If you are a previous prisoner, you cannot be qualified for pardon,” Superintendent Ceesay disclosed.
“If you have a sentence that has a compensation which the fault is not on the state but the complainants, it will not be justified to accord pardon to an inmate,” he said.