(JollofNews) – Sickening pictures have emerged from inside the Gambia’s notorious Mile Two Central Prison were thousands of prisoners including opponents of former president Yahya Jammeh were once held.
The first pictures of the prisons were posted on Facebook by pro-democracy activist Dr Amadou Scatterred Janneh following a surprised visit on Monday by the country’s newly appointed Interior Minister, Mai Ahmad Fatty and Justice Minister Ba Tambedou.
The stomach churning pictures confirmed early reports by rights groups that conditions in the prison and cells are overcrowded, damp, and poorly ventilated.
The pictures also showed poor sanitation and lack of beds and mattresses forcing prisoners to sleep on concrete floor.
Speaking to journalists after the visit, Interior Minister Fatty said he was sadde
ned at some of the things he saw in the detention centre.
“I am sure we can do better,” he said. “I know the officers are doing their best but there is room for improvement. I will make my general assessment after I have visited all the facilities throughout the country.”
Mr Fatty added that he will ensure that the rule of law particularly the protection of the fundamental rights of the citizen are at the very core of the prison and detention facilities in the country.
He added the Gambia is a signatory to many international conventions and protocols, which obliged the country not to engage in any dehumanising and degrading treatment of prisoners.W
“I’ve heard instances where prisoners said they were allegedly beaten,” he said. “I think this is a situation that we cannot accept. When a prisoner commits a crime, there is the Prisons Act and there are laws to exercise rights and authorities. I will declare here that we cannot accept such things. As at now, these are allegations but we will investigate.”
Mr Fatty said they are going to be critically looking at the circumstances of the prisoners so that they can improve it; not only to focus on the punishment element but also to see how they can be rehabilitated.
He added: “Our concept of penal servitude is going to change radically. We’re going to focus on given them skills training and education especially juvenile prisoners so that when they go out, they will have a profession or a type of decent life so that they will not resort to crime.”