TRRC recommends state develop alternative systems of imprisonment

May 18, 2022, 11:11 AM | Article By: Ali Jaw

The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) has recommended to state to develop other alternative systems of imprisonment for those convicted of offences.

This call is part of the recommendations contained in its final report submitted to government.

The final report states; "State should discuss alternative systems of imprisonment- such as probation and community service- to ease overcrowding in prisons," the TRRC final report states. 

The Gambia has experienced a lot of unnecessary imprisonment of people, especially youngsters and teenagers, for petty offences and other offences which could have possibly attracted other forms of punishment other than actual imprisonment.

Coupled with the high number of people regularly remanded on suspicion of commission of a crime, this has led to overcrowding and congestion in cells across Gambian prisons, especially at the State Central Prison (Mile II)

With this recommendation being enforced, the TRRC believes that this would help de-congest the country’s prison cells and ensure enough space.

"Each prison should be provided with an ambulance for quick and easy referrals to the nearest health facility," the report enumerated among other recommendations.

"Justice sector personnel should conduct capacity-building training for their staff to fast-track remand and appeal cases so as to ensure that persons in remand do not spend more time than is necessary in jail, thereby reducing overcrowding in the prisons."

"Existing sentencing guidelines should be reviewed and revised in order to avoid imposing long custodial sentences for misdemeanors and other petty offences – especially those committed by young persons."

"The prison service should provide skills, literacy training and microfinance with a view to creating sustainable livelihoods and decent jobs, rehabilitating prisoners and creating behavioural change to prevent prisoners from going back to prison. These measures can go a long way in reducing crime rate."

"David Colley, Ebrima Jammeh (Chief torturer), Yahya Jarju, Saikouba Jarju and Muhammed Jabbi should be prosecuted for tortures meted out to prisoners, and Malang Tamba should be reprimanded for participating in the tortures."

"The female prison officers who refused to submit to sexual violations by senior government officials during their trip to upcountry should be promoted to the levels of their colleagues who were not subjected to any form of harassment or unfair treatment by David Colley. In essence, they should not suffer any disadvantage by reason of their refusal to submit to the unlawful orders and demands of David Colley."

"No one should be given access to the prisons/prisoners, except in accordance with the law. The military personnel stationed at the Security Wing of Mile II Central Prison should be removed from the prison and returned to the barracks. The NIA or any other security institution should not be given direct administrative responsibility over a prison or any part of it, except administrative oversight thereof."

The government of The Gambia, the report added, should provide adequate subvention to the prison service in order to improve the food, maintenance and general hygiene of the prison.

"The government should put in place rules in order to ensure that the prison service is not used as an institution for torture. The salaries and emoluments of prison officers are too low, which encourages corruption and trafficking by prison officers. The government should augment these salaries, at least to the same level as the salaries of police/military officers."

The report has also urged government to recognise Fanta Sanneh and Buba Jatta for the good services rendered.

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