By Omar Bah & Oumie Mendy
Jailed former AFPRC Junta member, Yankuba Touray has urged the National Assembly to review the president’s prerogative to pardon prisoners to make it fit for purpose.
Touray was speaking to the National Assembly Committee on human rights who visited the Mile 2 Central Prisons yesterday to assess its conditions.
During the five-hour visit, NAMs had the opportunity to discuss with wardens and prisoners about the conditions of the cells and accommodation. The lawmakers also discussed with high profile prisoners and detainees such as Sheikh Omar Jeng, former NIA director of operations at the NIA, Yankuba Touray, Bob Keita, Sainabou Mbye among others. Continuing his address to the lawmakers during the visit, Yankuba Touray started by acknowledging and appreciating the fact that the National Assembly is trying to re-admit all the bills that failed to pass during the last legislature including the New Criminal Code.
“I want to urge the National Assembly members to review the prerogative of the President to pardon prisoners in the New Criminal Code to ensure due process is followed,” he said.
The former Junta member said the president has not been following due process because the selection is done without proper consultations.
“This is why I want you (NAMs) to review it to ensure it’s based on merits and given to people who have reformed because most of the inmates the president has pardoned over the years are back at Mile 2. So, the essence is that when these people are pardoned, they should be able to reintegrate into society,” he said. Touray also appealed to the NAMs to allow them to have their views captured in the New Criminal Code. “We have lived here so we know what we need in that Code to better our prisons. If that law is passed without our inputs, it will not be fit for purpose,” he said.
Also speaking to the NAMs, Bob Keita who is on trial for alleged rape, said the government should address the issue of transportation at the prisons. He said the prison’s kitchen also needs facilities. A number of other prisoners also complained about the slow progress of cases at the courts. They urged the NAMs to ensure there are judicial reforms so that cases will speed up at the courts.
“We have inmates who have spent fourteen years here without knowing their fate. This is horrible,” one of the inmates told the NAMs.
Responding to Yankuba Touray’s appeal, the chairperson of the National Assembly committee on human rights, Madi Ceesay said: “We have received the same complaint from a prison officer in Jangjangbureh. They are all talking about the same thing, so what the committee can do is that there is already a Prisons Act and you have all these issues of President’s Prerogative to Pardon within that Act. We will take it up with the Director General of prisons to ensure that the process of executing the president’s orders is consultative. We will ensure that even prisoners are given the opportunity to express their views,” Honourable Ceesay said.