Gambia is seeking to transform its criminal justice system by building new detention centers that meet international standards and defined by the desire to transform people instead of punishing them.
Interior Minister Mai Fatty said their government will do everything within their powers to upgrade and create new facilities for Gambia’s prison to improve their living conditions.
It comes after Fatty and Attorney General Aboubacarr Baa Tambadou visited the Mile II prisons, which they concluded is inhumane for detention.
“We are going to create new prison facilities that will meet new international standards – prisons that will aim at transforming ‘bad’ citizens into ‘good’ citizens, unskilled citizens into skilled citizens and uneducated citizens into educated citizens,” Fatty said.
Last week’s shocking footages and videos on the conditions of prisoners from the notorious Mile II cells emerged online igniting criticisms of the former regime and calls for urgent prison reforms.
Rights campaigners concerned expressed serious concerns about the condition of juvenile detainees, who are missing out of school.
Fatty is promising to create an educational system that will enable them continue with their schooling to help them acquire certificates, diplomas and have professions.
“…..when they go out, they have something to fall onto. They have a descent living. We have a duty to those members of our society who fall sway,” said Fatty.
“I have an opportunity to meet these prisoners and some of them are very intelligent. It is for us as a government to help them harness those potentials that lies within them so that they can be good members of our society.”
Gambia’s new president Adama Barrow has come to power on promises of sweeping institutional and legal reforms.
He defeated country’s longstanding ruler Yahya Jammeh who now lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea.
Gambian authorities have released 174 prisoners last night as part of events marking the 52 independence anniversary of the small nation.
Former government critics said the prison facilities in Gambia are very poor and in 2014, two UN experts who have come to inspect the place upon request from the government of Jammeh were denied entrance at Mile 2, Gambia’s toughest prison where these prisoners were released.