The documentary was released during the launching of the Rapid Prisons Assessment Report, Photo Book and Video Documentary, organised by the Ministry of Interior in partnership with The Gambia Prisons Services and UNDP.
The Prisons Services of The Gambia has been in existence since the colonial period. In a country of approximately 1.9 million people (2013 census), the three prisons are responsible for about 600 detainees. With the new government, the prisons service aspires to meet the Mandela Rules and transform the Prisons Service from an institution centered on punishment to one focused on rehabilitation.
In the documentary, an inmate disclosed that for twenty two years, Mile 2 has been an epicenter of former President Jammeh’s cruelty and made it the darkest pit of Gambia’s history which this government needs to take off and give it a good image to make it a normal prison.
He added that with the new administration, things are getting better but there are still rooms for improvement, pointing out that the atmosphere between inmates and staffs is cordial and not as before.
According to him, the toilet facilities are still as they were; still horrible and a high percentage of the food served especially dinner is thrown away immediately it is served.
The director general of The Gambia Prison Services, Ansumana Manneh, said the capacity of the prisons especially Mile 2 was to accommodate nothing less than 300 inmates, but with the increased number of crimes today, the prisons are accommodating more than the required number.
According to him, previously the feeding aspect of the prisons was very poor, but now, there has been great improvement and it has reflected on the health of the inmates.
“Also the privileges that were not given to them before are now given to them as inmates that were sentenced to death were not allowed any visitor, but now they are allowed visitors on monthly basis.”
“With support from the government and other development partners like the UNDP, UNODC and GCCI, we are able to make some expansions especially at the kitchen, clinic and the Jeshwang Prison. However, there are still challenges especially with regard to infrastructure,” Manneh noted.
The commissioner at the Janjangbureh Prison, Babucar Jatta, said The Gambia is embracing a new democracy with respect of people and human rights. “Since the inception of the new government, the human rights of the inmates have improved in The Gambia.”
“It is important to observe the Mandela Rules in order to bring positive change in the prison management and techniques in the prisons because we need to observe their human rights not to be violated anymore compared with the previous government,” he concluded.