Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Lahai Lawrence Leeman, has told Members of Parliament on the Committee of Internal Affairs that the ministry was currently establishing bank accounts for all female inmates to receive financial packages at the end of their jail terms as a way of empowering them.
Leeman said all inmates on remand or nearing completion of their jail terms would be benefiting from the scheme, stating that whenever organisations hire their services, the proceeds would be lodged into their various bank accounts and given to them after their release from prison.
"We are currently working on a proposed program for the female inmates that are engaged in tailoring. The program is currently meant for female inmates but will be extended to male inmates. And it will only be effected when the Correctional Facility Act comes to effect because it needs huge funds and collaboration to carry out such program. We are targeting all of them whether be it remand or condemn inmates, as we want to correct them from their wrongs. We need to transform them from their psychosocial effects and such opportunities should be provided to them," he said.
He disclosed that there was a grant secured by the government of Sierra Leone under late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah for the relocation of the current Correctional Centre to Masankay and Waterloo, which he said could not come to an effect.
"There are procedures that needed to be followed and it needed public-private partnership support. If we want to relocate it, we need to give it to investors. But we want to open up this concept and make a concept paper to present to cabinet, once it got approval, it will kick off," he stated.
He said despite the challenges faced by the ministry, they were still working on the issue of overpopulation in the prisons as they were currently working with the Sierra Leone Police to roll out the de-congestion.
On the issue of passport, he said when they took over, a meeting was held with officials of Immigration and NetPage to review the initial contract concerning the price, (Le750,000), but noted that they concluded that the initial amount remain despite the increase in the exchange rate.
He promised the committee that they would take necessary actions to ease burdens on citizens staying or working outside the country, as well as foreigners staying and working in Sierra Leone.
On his part, Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Shueku Kamara, said the strategic objectives of the current year were to promote efficiency and effectiveness in the contribution to public service delivery and to also enhance institutional and operational capabilities respectively.
He said they were faced with numerous challenges of inadequate human resources, which he said might seriously affect the strategic role of security and safety.
He lamented that they were faced with inadequate budgetary allocations, unpredictability in the disbursement of funds and also the absence of pipe borne water in the building, among several other challenges.
He urged the committee to assist them and also advocate on their behalf for the Ministry of Finance to increase their budget and be disbursing their allocations early.
Earlier, Hon. Charles O. Abdulai, said the ministry has a lot to do especially overseeing the activities of the Correctional Centre, Police and Immigration.
He observed that the Immigration Department has more facilities than the Internal Affairs Ministry, hence there was need to collaborate with the committee to address the issue.
Hon. Emmanuel Said Conteh urged the deputy minister to pay key attention to the Coroner (mortuary), where postmortems examinations are carried, stating that it was in a deplorable state.
Chairman of the committee, Hon. Alusine Kanneh, said the purpose of the meeting was to familiarise with officials from the Internal Affairs Ministry and to also know the challenges faced by the ministry.
He said collaboration was very important in the dispensation of their duties as there have been lot of complaints from the public and other members, but if they come together, it will be addressed in an amicable way.
He also stated that now that the ministry has outlined their challenges, they will sit as a committee to help address the issues as they were all development partners.