27 April 2017

Liberia: 'Appalling' Prison Conditions Unearthed

The Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) has released a report on the 'deteriorating' conditions of prisons across the country.

The report was released in Monrovia on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at program to commemorate Africa Pre-trial Detention Day.

The report captured abuses being meted against inmates detained at various prison centers in Liberia.

According to the report captioned "Thematic report on the conditions of prisons and prisoners in Liberia", human rights conditions in Liberia's prisons have deteriorated on several fronts due to the increased prison population.

The prison population continues to grow at a steady rate, the report indicated.

INCHR's report further disclosed that the conditions of prisons and detention facilities across Liberia remain appalling adding that this condition has persisted for the last six years.

For instance, at Monrovia Central Prison (MCP), the report noted that a huge number of inmates are charged with petty crimes, although a number of prolonged-pretrial detainees are charged with armed robbery and rape.

INCHR said its investigation at the MCP established that 40% of the pretrial detainees are charged with Rape, 40% with Armed Robbery and 20% with various crimes including Theft of Property, Aggravated Assault and Murder.

"In addition, where the MCP was designed to accommodate 374 inmates, the facilities currently holds the total of 1,032 inmates, more than tripling its capacity. The majority of inmates are males; women and minors comprised a small percentage of the population," the reported noted.

INCHR explained that 211 cases of pretrial detainees from May 9, 2016 wereobtained from the pretrial detainees' updated records of the Monrovia Central Prison Records Section.

Interviews, according to the report were conducted with almost all of the 211 pretrial detainees, who complained about over crowdedness of the cells, no proper medication, inadequate feeding, limited toilet facilities in their blocks or units, and that they have not gone to court since their detention.

"Some of the pretrial detainees interacted with have been detained from January 2010 up to present and have not had their day in court since their detention at the MCP," the report highlighted.

The investigation also shows that very few of the detainees' cases are transferred to Circuit Courts with no records relating to an indictment or complaint.

In addition, the report added that prison conditions at the MCP continue to raise serious human rights concerns and thus require immediate actions by the Liberian Government.

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