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Sierra Leone News: Kailahun inmates walk to court

The Acting Regional Commander East James Tarawalli has said that the entire eastern region can only boast of one vehicle to convey inmates to Court. He stated that inmates in Kailahun had to walk to attend Court sittings. The Sierra Leone Correctional Center (SLCC) Commander was responding to queries in the Auditor General Report of 2017 from the Deputy Chairman Hon. Marrah of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in Parliament last Friday 5 April, 2019 in Kenema. The Audit Report had observed that there was no official vehicle at the centre to convey inmates to court. He answered, “The only truck we have is one in the region; the police aid us when the need arises” he said. Hon. Marrah asked what happens if the Police have other operations he replied “we use other means by walking, it is a very serious situation and I have done several status report to the headquarter regarding our constraint.”  Other queries by the Auditors were that the SLCC Kailahun Center drainage system and septic tanks within the centre were in a dilapidated state. The cells had no mattresses, slippers were not supplied to inmates and the perimeter fence was dilapidated with cracks all around it. Additionally they observed that food for inmates was insufficient and cooking utensils were not supplied on time. The Centre had no technical teaching and learning materials and the Centre had no recreational facilities. Hon Lahai further asked the Commander whether some of the issues can be addressed without finances as the inmates can help with challenges like water; Commander Tarrawali said that most of the issues stated have been partially addressed. “So you are telling us that the inmates are living with their faeces since 2017”Hon. Marrah asked and he said no, “I am aware of their human right” Commander Tarrawali replied. “We know there are always problem but some can be addressed by yourself especially the drainage system” Hon Marrah added. The Commander informed the Committee that there are now mattresses, slippers, teaching and learning materials available and the perimeter fence has been addressed.  The Auditors also said that computers were dysfunctional and Hon Peter Moigua asked whether they do administrative work, he replied that the regional headquarter has been the central administrative wing and they have few equipment that they use to help centers do their correspondences, “but in the centres there are no computers and printers.”  Questioned how they document records of inmates into the database he replied that it is being done manually at the centres and they bring it to the regional headquarters for input. The entire region holds 606 inmates as at last Friday and the ratio to inmates was also queried. The Commander acknowledged that even if they train 2,000 or more officers the increase in case load tells a lot on their service delivery. Hon Marrah said that “we have to move on as a nation, these are some of the lapses contributing to the slow movement of Sierra Leone to development. Sometimes we only look at bigger issues forgetting the smaller ones that are hindering our development which are very important and serious” he said. He cited that fact that huge budgetary allocations are being made to the Correctional Centers towards a lot of things, “but you cannot continue to purchase uniforms when you have people that you are paying to train the inmates to be tailors” he advised.

By Zainab Iyamide Joaque

Monday April 08, 2019.

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