By Abdoulie John
In wake of recommendations made in 2017 by a UN Working Group for the closure of the notorious Mile Two State Central Prison, Gambia’s Adama Barrow has expressed his resolve to build a new correctional facility that would be in line with international standards.
The Gambian leader made this remark Tuesday during his bi-annual news conference held at State House, Banjul. Deplorable and life threatening conditions prevailed for more than two decades at Mile Two prisons, located in the outskirts of Banjul.
In June 2017, a UN Working Group delegation concluded a eight-day visit to Gambia. They had the opportunity to meet the President, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of the Interior and other high-level State authorities, as well as civil society organisations and relatives of the victims. At a presser held at UN House in Cape-Point, the delegation disclosed to the media that advised Gambian authorities to close down Mile Two as the prison facility has become a blatant attack to human dignity.
Barrow told journalists that they have finalised plans for a new prison to be constructed. But he was quick to add that the project is delayed because of financial constraints.
Since attaining independence, the tiny West African nation has inherited three correctional facilities from British colonial rule. Located in Banjul, Old Jeshwang and Jangjangbureh, these facilities have become ‘houses of death’ under Jammeh regime, as they were used to silence opposition voices and dehumanise honest citizens.
Reliable sources close to prison authorities revealed that a site was identified in Janbajelly, and also confided to this reporter that Mile Two has undergone an uplifting process that is impacting positively in the life of detainees.
The Gambian leader assured that the political will is there to
construct a new correctional facility
The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances is expected to submit its report in September 2018. The UN delegation is comprised of five independent experts from all regions of the world. The Chair-Rapporteur is Ms. Houria Es-Slami (Morocco) and the Vice-Chair is Mr.Bernard Duhaine (Canada); other members are Mr.Tae-Ung Bail (Republic of Korea), Mr Luciano Hazan (Argentina) and Mr.Henrikas Mickevicius (Lithuania).
Illegal Timber Trade
Asked about what his government is doing to put a halt to illegal logging, President Barrow said security has been strengthened around all landing sites to prevent the smuggling of timbers into the country.
He further stated that he and his Senegalese counterpart are committed to putting an end to an activity that continues to pose a real threat to people livelihoods, and to deny future generations the right to live in a better world.
Barrow also emphasized that Government has spent between two to three million dalasis to allow security forces to be permanently at the landing sites.
He made it clear that Gambia Goveenment cannot support people who are involved into illegality,
In the West Coast region and Kanifing Municipality, companies and individuals are benefiting from an illegal activity that has scaled up the disappearing of the forest cover in the Senegambian sub-region.
To many observers, Gambia and Senegal are part of the Sahel region and cannot satisfy China’s voracious appetite for natural resources.
Ironically, three hours after the end of the President’s engagement with the media, your humble servant came across a truck carrying logs, suggesting that there is a boom of illegal logging in the country…