The Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Internal Affairs on Friday 15th June 2012 engaged the Prisons Departments on a meeting held in the house of parliament in Freetown.
The purpose of the meeting was to create a dialogue forum and also get the members of parliament acquainted with the operations of the department.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Internal Affairs, Hon. P.C Bai Kurr Kanagbaro Sanka III, revealed that one of the roles of the committee is to perform their oversight functions and not to intimidate anyone.
Hon. P.C Sanka called on the department to take parliament as their partner in development and not to see them as witch hunt. He further encouraged them to be meeting the committee to discuss their operations and challenges.
Deputy Committee Chairman, Hon. Patrick M. Kargbo expressed concern over congestion of inmates at the Pademba Road Prison, whilst noting that something urgent must be done to salvage the situation. He also recommended that there should be frequent training programmes for both senior and junior prison officers so as to keep them abreast with modern methods of keeping prisoners in custody.
Former Commitee Chairman, Hon. Kondeh Yapo Conteh said it is no secret that the prisons department is faced with numerous challenges, but that these challenges should not be seen as excuses for poor performances of duties.
Other members of the committee also made meaningful contributions.
In response, Acting Director of Prisons Mr. Sanpha Bilo Kamara described the committee members as role models in society, noting further that all what they have said are in the interest of the nation. He pointed out that his department is currently working in a very deplorable condition, whilst recommending the relocation of the Pademba Road Prison from central town to somewhere else. This he said will help greatly to solve some of these challenges.
Mr. Bilo Kamara revealed that, the central prison was constructed in 1914 with the capacity to accommodate 324 inmates but that currently, the prison is hosting over one thousand inmates. He pleaded to the members of parliament to come to their aid and help them enjoy better working conditions.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.