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Sierra Leone News: In Kenema… prison officers used kitchens as sleeping rooms

An audit into staff quarters of the Sierra Leone Correctional Centre, Eastern Region for 2016 has observed that 20 personnel were living out of the prison quarters, with 10 personnel occupying the kitchens as sleeping rooms.
The Auditor General has recommended that the Regional Director-East should ensure that overcrowding is reduced and measures are taken to upgrade the conditions of the Correctional Service.
The Regional Director-East responded that the 20 personnel who are living out of the barracks because of inadequate accommodation facilities to host them within the barracks.
“A team from the monitoring and evaluation unit of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service (SLCS) in collaboration with staff of the Ministry of Works recently visited the Kenema Correctional Centres to verify the available housing facilities of officers which I hope will yield dividends in the near future,” said the Regional Director-East.
“This is a clear manifestation of inadequate accommodation for officers. However, it is the right of all officers to be hosted within the barracks should any emergency arise. In view of such, if adequate accommodations are provided for officers, those in the kitchen rooms will be relocated accordingly.”
The cells were overcrowded, as some male cells were occupied by a maximum of four inmates. The male centre needs rehabilitation as there was no access point through steps to male centre cells one up to five. “This did not meet health and safety standards,” the report said.
Some prisoners on remand, convicted and trial inmates were occupying the same cell in the female correctional centre and there was no storage tank for water in the male and female centres.
The ratio of inmate to personnel for the period under review in the female centre was 5 to 1 and for the male centre, 30 to 1. There was a lack of kitchen materials in the female correctional centre. The auditors also learnt that four inmates died due to illness.
The male correctional centre was constructed for a capacity of 80 inmates and at the moment, the massive overcrowding could be as a result of prolonged detention of pre-trial inmates such as trial and remand inmates.
Lack of indictment for trial inmates and delay in trial of remand inmate coupled with the existing rigid magistrate and judges to sit on cases in the Eastern Region also has an effect on the overcrowding.
He agreed that mixing of convicted, remand and trial inmates at the female correctional centre is a fact. But, the SLCS is at the verge of classifying all inmates at all 19 correctional centres with the 2017 implementation of the SLCS Accommodation Master Plan.
The inmate-staff ratio is very high, he said, at all correctional centres due to the austerity placed on the SLCS not to recruit officers. However, this sanction has been lifted now and in the next few months, a reasonable number of officers will be recruited to narrow the high inmates /staff ratio that now exists in all 19 correctional centres.
There was no functioning Directory Observe Treatment Centre to examine inmates for sickness before being admitted to cells and there were also no adequate clinical facilities at the centre. ZJ/26/6/18
By Zainab Iyamide Joaque
Wednesday June 27, 2018.

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