Gambia says it is seeking private sector partnership to build new prisons after human rights groups deplored the inhumane state of its detention facilities.
The West African nation’s government hosted private sector economic operators to a meeting to partner on prison reform, and to render penal servitude consistent with international human rights standards, Interior Minister Mai Ahmad Fatty announced.
Gambian authorities released at least 270 prisoners since President Adama Barrow took power in January.
Officials say they will gradually release more prisoners as part of efforts to decongest detention centers. The Gambia’s police and criminal justice system is undergoing reforms aimed at improving security and human rights.
Former Prisons Director David Colley has been arrested and detained. He is being investigated for allegations of overseeing systematic dehumanizing treatment of prisoners, torture and human rights abuses.
Prisoners reported that poor sanitary conditions, inadequate food and water and torture are rife. A human rights report released by the US Government has exposed the harsh conditions at Gambian prisons, which are “cruel, inhuman and degrading.”