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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

Bring the War Crime Prisoners Back Home!
By Abu Bakar Shaw
Oct 31, 2011, 12:12
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As accusations and counter accusations continue regarding the eight Sierra Leoneans presently in prison in far away Rwanda for war crime convictions, many wonder if Sierra Leone is so unprepared to have its citizens in jail on home soil!

 

Reports recently making the rounds suggest that the eight Sierra Leone nationals imprisoned at the Mpanga Correctional Service in the Rwandan capital Kigali have raised concerns about mistreatments by prison authorities there.

 

No sooner had this accusation hits the streets in Freetown, the Special Court for Sierra Leone SCSL went on the defensive by denying all the allegations of mistreatments being meted out on the Sierra Leonean prisoners in Rwanda.

 

I am not here casting aspersions on whether the prisoners complaint is correct or not or whether the SCSL reaction to the mistreatment story is right or wrong. My main concern is the continued imprisonment of our citizens in a foreign land! Now the families of these imprisoned Sierra Leoneans are calling on the government and Human Rights Organisations to help fast track the transfer of their relatives back home.

 

I honestly cannot understand why they are STILL imprisoned in a foreign land? Transferring these prisoners to a foreign prison few years ago is understandable as security was fragile in Sierra Leone then. But not any more! Sierra Leones national security has improved dramatically thanks to the vigilance of the Sierra Leone Government.

 

I am of the view that Sierra Leone is very competent to take care of its prisoners. I see no reason why these eight prisoners could not finish their sentences HERE. The finances allocated for these eight prisoners in Kigali could also be allocated for them in Freetown as well!

 

Yes, Pademba Road Prisons has its own problems but I believe it can be renovated in no time if government and other stakeholders are really ready to do so. What about utilising the SCSL prisons? Is it not safer than Mpanga? These prisoners could be transferred here where they would be better protected as the saying goes there is no place like home.

 

Have we forgotten that these Sierra Leone prisoners have their own families and loved ones who would like to visit them at intervals. Where does the government or the SCSL expect these poor families to get their air tickets from to see their loved ones in far away Kigali?

 

Yes, they are prisoners but they still have rights. I believe it is against the fundamental human rights of these eight prisoners to deprive them of family visits. It is wise and respectable if these prisoners are brought back to their mother land to continue their prison sentences.

 

Are the Mpanga prison authorities more efficient than our prison authorities? I do not think so. The government must stand up with pride and remember that we are a sovereign nation and any Sierra Leonean found wanting must be tried, sentenced and imprisoned here.

 

That is the way it should be done as the country is now safer than many countries in the world! We should be proud to showcase it. Shouldnt we?

 

This is just my view.


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