The Gambian prison system has suffered from years of neglect and under-investment. During the previous government of President Yahya Jammeh, the prison system suffered from a poor reputation with allegations of human rights abuses, deteriorating prison facilities and overcrowding. The human rights climate in The Gambia improved as the new president, Adama Barrow, and his government took steps to reverse the arbitrary arrests and detention of citizens by adopting human rights principles and pardoning about 300 prisoners Conditions of detention are poor and overcrowded whereas, during the previous government, the prison system suffered from a poor reputation with allegations of human rights abuses committed.
Citizens spend prolonged periods in pre-trial detention with some individuals there up to five (5) years awaiting trial. According to current records, 225 out of 700 inmates are on remand. There are also outdated legal frameworks for the Prison Service with insufficient options for alternatives to imprisonment or rehabilitation of convicted prisoners.
The Prison authorities advised that during the previous government a number of individuals were promoted arbitrarily and summarily dismissed under the previous government. With the new government, the Prisons Service aspires to meet the Mandela Rules and transform the Prisons Service from an institution centered on punishment to one focused on rehabilitation. Nightmare is far from ending.
The story was produced for UNDP with the support of The Prison Services in Gambia.