Gambia Gambia: Mission on Prisons and Conditions of Detention - 1999

Dates:21 - 26 June 1999
Session:26th Ordinary Session
1 - 15 November 1999. Kigali, Rwanda
Special Mechanism:Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Conditions of Detention
Commissioner: Emmanuel Victor Oware Dankwa

"A high degree of respect for and protection of human rights in The Gambia must, to a large extent, have contributed to the Organisation of African Unity siting the headquarters of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights in Banjul, The Gambia. Africa and, indeed, the whole world continue to expect that the host country of the Commission measures up to the standard of foremost respecter of human rights in Africa, A visit to prisons and. detention centres in The Gambia by the Special Rapporteur, followed by the implementation of his recommendations will contribute towards the realisation of the foregoing expectation.

If any pressure were needed to be brought to bear on the government of The Gambia to consent to the visit, the Secretariat of the Commission would find itself well situated to undertake this task, being in the same city as the government. Herein, lie the reasons why prisons in The Gambia were visited between 21-26 June, 1999."

Recommandations

To the Government:
  1. Government should take steps to ensure that the prohibition of detention without trial beyond 72 hours is honored in practice.
  2. A reminder to police and prison officials that suspects and prisoners are neither to be assaulted nor tortured should be issued. Offenders should be prosecuted to deter the commission of this crime.
  3. Congestion at the remand section of Mile 2 is so serious that measures should be adopted to ease the situation. Early trial will not only contribute in solving this problem but will also address the problem of long remand.
  4. Prisoners with communicable diseases such as leprosy and tuberculosis should be isolated from the others.
  5. The long holding of prisoners in communicado should be discouraged and stopped.
  6. Medical attention should not be denied as a form of punishment.
  7. The traditional method of soap-making should be resorted to for more than one reason. It will contribute to improve sanitation, satisfy the needs of prisoners for soap, and cut down government expenditure, or channel the saved resources into critical areas in the prison regime.
  8.  Imprisonment should not be resorted to in cases such as Sikunda Jarra West and the 10 other inmates at Jajanbureh Prison.
  9. Foreigners who come to visit their relations in prisons in the Gambia should be allowed to do so.
  10. While commending government for the provision of radios for some cells in Mile 2, especially efforts should be made to keep them functional.
  11. The need for medical attention will be reduced and cost in providing medical attention is likely to be reduced if government continues with its practice of providing mosquito netting for prisons. Government is encouraged to extend this practice to cells and detention centres.
  12. It was encouraging to note the involvement of dietetician in the planning of the menu of prisoners. With a view to improving the quality of food in all prisons, the dietetician should extend her role to all prisons.
  13. The preferential treatment of convicts over remand prisoners at Jeschwang Prison should be stopped.
  14. Time spent on remand should be taken into account in calculating custodial sentences.
  15. The menace of rodents in Janjanbureh Prison should be addressed seriously.
  16. Until the planned wall is constructed at Janjanbureh Prison, remand prisoners should be let out in smaller groups into the open air to address their constant stay in cell.
  17. The reform in visits as to the frequency should be put into effect.
  18. The establishment of workshops for the prisoners should be pursued.
To civil society:
Civil society, especially non-governmental organisations should be more involved in prison reform by way of prison visits and contributing materially to supplement Government efforts.

To the international community:

Although relatively a small prison population, the view should not be taken that the government of the Gambia does not need any international assistance in its prison regime. Donation(s) of vehicles will ease the transportation problems currently being experienced in Government's efforts to have a human penal regime. The Special Rapporteur appeals for such donation(s), as he appeals for support in the establishment of workshops for the prisons of the Gambia.



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