Gambia’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice has Tuesday taken an uncompromising stance on allegation of torture that was reportedly meted out to some Mile Two prisoners after staging strike into
“We, of course, take any allegation of torture very seriously. Particularly in this era where we want to be seen as pacesetters of human rights in our continent,” Aboubacarr Tambadou told reporters during a press conference held at the Ministry of Justice located along Marina Parade, Banjul.
Last month, a protest erupted on Mile Two, one of the country’s main correctional facilities as some prisoners complained about being detained for years without trial. Authorities dispatched a team to help restore calm in the detention center. However, reports emerged indicating that some inmates were subjected to degradation treatment and solitary confinement.
Tambadou said he had heard reports of these allegations and made it clear that his office is looking into it.
“So far, the initial response of prison’s authorities is a denial that it didn’t take place and no one was tortured,” he added.
He further stated that they suggested to conduct a medical examination to prove that these detainees were not tortured. “So, it is an allegation at this point in time. It has not been proven,” he remarked.
Situated in the outskirts of Banjul, Mile Two central prison was described by many observers as Gambia’s gulag where thousands of prisoners of conscience, political opponents, activists were incarcerated under the watch of former longtime ruler.
Tambadou said they have not dismissed the allegations and promised to get to the bottom of the investigation in a near future.
Weighing on the issue of solitary confinement, he said people are taken to prison for a purpose. “Even when you are accused and detained, there is still presumption of innocence.”
He was however quick to clarify that prisons have regulations that inmates are required to observe.
He went on to say if prisons authorities believe there are trouble-makers, who are instigating other prisoners to engage in acts of indiscipline, they can take a number of measures including at times isolating the detainees.
“This doesn’t mean confinement but taking them away from the rest of prisoners and deny them the opportunity to continue instigating troubles,” he said. “Based on the information I received that is what has taken place.”
He cited former Director General of the defunct National Intelligence Agency, Yankuba Badjie, as being suspected of being part of those instigating troubles. “They’ve not been kept in solitary confinement,” Tambadou reiterated.
Written by Abdoulie JOHN
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