Gambia fires chief prison warden David Colley

Gambia fires chief prison warden David Colley

The State House has fired the Director General of the Gambia’s prison system, who denied that torture was prevalent in detention centers scattered around the country.

David Colley was replaced Friday by after campaign against his firing and arrest intensified. He was replaced by Commissioner Ansumana Manneh.

Gambian authorities, including its justice and homeland security ministers, say conditions at the Mile II Central Prison, where many political detainees were held is inhumane and overcrowded.

UN says torture in Gambian prisons, especially in Mile II is widespread and prisoners say their jailers do so to just about anyone.

Inadequate sanitation, food, water, as well as torture are rife in the prisons. The ventilation system is poor and many prisoners died of malnutrition and food poisoning.

A U.S. State Department report says the prison conditions are poor with overcrowded, damp, and poorly ventilated cells and inmates complained of poor sanitation and food.

During the summer months, temperatures were extremely high, and there were no ceiling fans or other measures to reduce heat. Amadou Janneh complained in court that the roof of his cell leaked.

Colley is a longtime interior ministry official. He joined the Gambia Prisons Service in the 1970s and rose through ranks. Before his appointment to the top job, he was the Commissioner of Prisons.

“He knows of the inhumane prison conditions. He was there himself before as a detainee,” said an official.

Colley was arrested in 2007 on the direct orders of former dictator Yahya Jammeh for stealing a generator and D27,000 and detained for weeks. He was prosecuted and discharged for stealing D27,000 but he was found guilty of stealing the generator and fined D3,000.

He became the prison director in 2008 and was fired in 2012. A year later, Jammeh reappointed him again as director of prisons.

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