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City of Banjul
Wednesday, December 2, 2020

NHRC wants more prisoners pardoned

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By Omar Bah

The National Human Rights Commission has asked the Ministry of Justice to urge President Adama Barrow to pardon more prisoners, especially those serving time for offences that are nonviolent.

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The NHRC said the move would help to assist in curtailing the rise in coronavirus cases by decongesting the prisons.
The Commission further asked the government to ensure face masks are provided to all “detainees, remanded and convicted prisoners, police officers, prison officers and all those who come into contact with detainees”.

It also recommended that before people are remanded at any of the three prisons, they should be tested for Covid-19.
“Prisoners in all the three prisons must be tested for COVID- 19 and those found to be positive isolated from the other prisoners and alleged offenders charged with offences that are nonviolent and/or not of a sexual nature be granted bail on lenient conditions,” NHRC added.

The NHRC also commended the Judiciary for putting in place measures regarding bail applications and other urgent matters as the Superior Courts proceed on vacation and the scaling down of operations with judicial officers sitting on rotational basis.
The commission recommended that in the interest of fair and speedy trial, the Judiciary considers instituting mobile courts within the premises of Mile 2 Central, Jeshwang and Janjanbureh prisons to expedite criminal trials and consequently decongesting prisons in some jurisdictions.

“The NHRC continues to strongly believe that the aforementioned recommendations, if implemented, would help to assist in curtailing the high rise in Covid-19 cases, and decongest the prisons. It will also ensure speedy and fair trial for prisoners awaiting trial and or awaiting the outcome of their appeals,” the rights commission added.

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