#Article (Archive)

A Cause for Concern

Jul 10, 2009, 8:31 AM

Prisons are supposed to be a place of correction and reforms for the convict. Remand on the other hand, is a place where offenders alleged of committing crimes are kept as investigations loom into their activities.

The state of the cells in the remand wing of the prisons is indeed a cause for concern.  They are often overcrowded and people are sometimes detained for more than ten years. All of them should either be tried or released. The daily ration at the prisons should be more appetizing.

The Ministries of Justice and Interior should give adequate attention to the plight of these remand prisoners.

It is therefore important to draw a line between the two: an alleged offender and a convict. Hence, those charged for committing offences are not necessarily criminals; they must be treated with all due respects, and in dictum with the laws of the land.

That is to say, they must be presumed innocent before being tried by a competent court of law.

That's why the constitution which is the supreme laws of the land clearly stipulates the need for "presumption of innocence".

Where this does not exist, then those whose liberty and freedoms are truncated for one reason or the other, must be given speedy trial to avoid such enigma.

We are deeply moved when we learnt of the mistreatment meted out to those remanded for crimes unknown to them.

Despite efforts made by human rights institutions to improve standards in our prisons, we are yet to recover from the nemesis of this sickening situation. Wecannot imagine a situation where remand prisoners are treated like felonious offenders.

We cannot believe our conscience that remand prisoners sleep in overcrowded cells.

Like any other decent person an alleged offender must not be treated like a bandit and therefore deserves to live an honourable life in society.

This situation must be checked as we strive to make the Gambian the Silicon Valley of Africa.

No meaningful development can take place in a situation where peoples' rights are truncated by those who supposed be the defenders of their God-given rights.