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City of Banjul
Saturday, January 16, 2021

Remanded 3YRS Jotna leader decries prison conditions

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By Omar Bah

Sheriffo Sonko, one of eight leaders of the banned Three Years Jotna movement remanded at state central prison at Mile 2 has alleged that the country’s prison conditions are still terrible and inhumane.

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“We have not been beaten during our detention, but I can tell you that we didn’t have access to food. We were treated just the same way like Jammeh’s Junglers were treating Gambians, even though we have not been subjected to any physical torture,” he told his supporters and journalists before he entered a waiting police van at the Kanifing Magistrates Court on Wednesday afternoon.

Sonko however remained defiant and as he was being whisked away to prison, he oxymoronically told his supporters: “We will liberate you. Adama Barrow’s dictatorship will not strive in this country. Three years is what the president promised us.”
Sonko and his co-accused have been indicted on three counts of criminal charges: unlawful assembly, rioting after proclamation and rioters demolishing structures.

The magistrates court remanded the eight accused persons to Mile 2 pending their arraignment before the high court at a date to be announced.
The magistrate’s ruling came following an intense argument between the police prosecutor and the defence lawyer over whether the Kanifing court has the jurisdiction to hear the case.

When contacted for comments on Mr Sonko’s allegations of poor remand conditions, the spokesman for the Gambia Prisons Services, Superintendent Momodou Lamin Ceesay, stated: “That is their opinion. It doesn’t necessarily mean that is what is on the ground. Comparing the conditions of the prison under Jammeh and now is just like comparing daylight and night. There is significant improvement in terms of the prisoners’ housing, treatment and even food. We give them food three times a day. You can confirm this with the Human Rights Commission officials who were at the prisons on a fact-finding mission.

“These people are disgruntled, they think they have the right to say all what not, just to mix up the minds of the public. But they should understand that Mile 2 is not a five star hotel and also the fact that we can only spend within our financial limits. The prisons were turned into torture chambers during the former regime but now things are not like that under the current administration,” he added.

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