Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean assures pretrial detainees that they will have their day in court, following prison authorities’ report indicating that 75 percent of the detainees have not faced trial.
“We heard the often cry of pretrial detention, that is a challenge for us. We are working on it and we hope in the very near future all of you who have not been to court will have your day in court,” Cllr. Dean said Tuesday, 24 July at the Monrovia Central Prison (MCP).
Minutes before President George Manneh Weah granted presidential clemency to 38 inmates during a visit at the MCP, Cllr. Dean expressed believe that “some of the finest of our people” are still held in prisons here.
“And we believe that through rehabilitation, the best can be brought of them,” Cllr. Dean says.He tells the inmates that President Weah’s visit at the prison compound clearly indicates that they are not forgotten and they are part of of the citizens of the Republic of Liberia.
Despite the missteps, he assures them that their rights will be protected.Earlier, MCP Superintendent Col. Varney Lake said the facility has far exceeded its capacity, holding 1,100 inmates today.
He indicates that 842 of the inmates are pretrial detainees, 258 convicts, 68 foreigners, 25 females and seven juvenile detainees.Assistant Justice Minister for Corrections and Rehabilitation Eddie Tarawaly suggests to President Weah the need to prioritize prison industry by teaching and utilizing skills of inmates to produce materials that contribute to revenue generations.
He wants inmates to produce government school uniforms, chairs and other things that could be sold to public schools and contribute 75 percent of the proceeds to government revenues and 25 percent for prisons’ maintenance.
Prison officials and inmates presented materials produced by detainees including African baskets as gifts to President Weah and his wife Mrs. Clar Weah, to showcase skills gained through rehabilitation programs.
By Winston W. Parley