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15/07/2021 - 20:37
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The European Union (EU), through one of its local implementing partners, Serving Humanity for Empowerment and Development (SHED), has made a donation of assorted medical supplies to four prison facilities in Liberia. The prison facilities to benefit from the donated medical supplies include Kakata Central Prison and Bondinway Prison in Margibi County, the Gbarnga Central Prison in Bong County and the Sanniquellie Central Prion in Nimba County.

 The donation is a part of interventions by SHED and its implementing partner the Rural Human Rights Activist Program (RHRAP), with funding provided by the European Union, as part of a human rights and access to justice project being implemented in Margibi, Bong and Nimba Counties, titled “Strengthening Democracy and Respect for Fundamental Human Rights of Prisoners in Liberia-EIDHR/2020/418674”.

 SHED Executive Director Mrs. Joyce Queeglay-Pajibo, presenting the assorted medical supplies to the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation (BCR) in Monrovia Tuesday, said the donation is aimed at ensuring protection for the human rights of pre-trial detainees, inmates and other vulnerable people in the targeted project counties. She said this is a three-year European Union funded project meant to protect the human rights of inmates and pre-trial detainees by providing them with legal assistance and skills training, by supporting the BCR with training for Correction Officers, and by improving awareness amongst local communities and religious leaders on issues of human rights.

 In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, SHED is also providing medical supplies to nurses from the Ministry of Health to provide medical care for inmates at the four prison facilities. Receiving the assorted medical supplies, the Director of the BCR Samuel Sainleseh Kwaidah said the supplies will bring great deal of relief to the four prison facilities, especially in the wake of the third outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in Liberia. “This donation has come at a time when all prisons across Liberia are challenged and overwhelmed”, said Director Kwaidah.

 Director Kwaidah said he is grateful to the European Union and SHED for the interventions in the three counties, and is hoping that other donors can come to the aid of the BCR in the remaining counties. “Prisons in Margibi, Bong and Nimba counties are so different from prisons in the other counties. These three counties are not the whole of Liberia, we need help in the other counties, it is not easy for us”, Director Kwaidah appealed.

 Prison conditions in Liberia remain a cause of concern, with overpopulation in detention facilities, aggravated by the backlog of court cases resulting in lengthy periods of pre-trial detention for a large number of people, and difficulties with regard to prisoners’ access to health care, sanitation and food.

 The three-year EU funded project is making meaningful contributions in protecting the human rights of pre-trial detainees and inmates at the four prison facilities in three counties, including the rights of the inmates to medical care, in line with international standards and best practice, providing training for legal practitioners including magistrates, city solicitors, public defenders and defense counsels, and providing pro bono lawyers for pre-trial detainees who do not have access to lawyers and are facing prolonged pre-trial detention. 

 The project is also providing skill training for inmates in tailoring, as well as training for inmates, Correctional Officers, community leaders, religious leaders on the human rights of pre-trial detainees and inmates.

 The project renovated prison facilities in Kakata and Gbarnga and provided 200 PVC mattresses and 200 mats for inmates who have been sleeping on the bare ground. The renovation of work at the two prisons included major repair of roof, construction of inmates’ sunbath fence, replacement of damaged zinc, painting of the entire prisons, and construction of ventilation channels for inmates, amongst others. Renovation work in the remaining two targeted prisons Sanniqullie and Bondiway is ongoing.