• February 7, 2024

S/L Correctional Centers… No Toilet Facilities-Audit Report

S/L Correctional Centers… No Toilet Facilities-Audit Report
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By Alusine Fullah

According to rule 15 of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) of 2015 guides on the sanitary installations for prisoners to comply with the needs of nature, all correctional centers should have good sanitary facilities.  Maintaining good sanitation is vital for the well-being of inmates, staff and other stakeholders.

In nexus to that, the Audit Service Sierra Leone has reported that: “Based on discussions and physical verification of selected prison cells in the Western Area, which hold at least six persons every night, we observed that there were no in-built toilets in the cells.

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At night, the occupants will, in turn, take a plastic bucket into the cell and use it during the night and clean them up the following morning, or in some instances the disposal is delayed. Of grave concern was that these buckets were placed in the same cells where the inmates sleep. This situation is dehumanizing and poses lots of health hazards to inmates.”

The Sierra Leone Correctional Services officially responded that there are flushed toilets in some of the cells at the Freetown Male Correctional Centre – Clarkson Building saved some. The Ministries of Internal Affairs and Finance including other stakeholders are fully aware of the prevailing circumstances and challenges of the Centre.  There are plans to relocate the Freetown Male Correctional Centre to somewhere at Masanke where there will be better toilet and other facilities. For now, the inmates are constantly sensitized on the hygienic way of using the bucket system that could pose no health hazards.

The Audit Report also reveals that Sierra Leone Correction in Makeni lacks Facilities to cater for infant children of female inmates Section 35 of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service Act of 2014 stipulates that no infant child of a female inmate shall be received into a correctional center unless there are adequate facilities and provision within that correctional center for the care and maintenance of infant children of female inmates. Contrary to the above provision, the audit team found four toddlers in the cells of the female section of the Makeni Correctional Centre which had no facility to accommodate children below the age of three years. Three mothers of the infant children were convicted, and a mother was on remand. Moreover, no special diet was provided for the children; they fed on the regular diet provided for the mothers and sometimes from donations from charitable organizations. We recommended that adequate arrangements be put in place to accommodate inmates and their children below the age of three years. Moreover, special diets should be provided to cater for the children’s needs.

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