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Judiciary cites government’s constitutional error

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By Lincoln G. Peters 

Liberia’s Judiciary says the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Justice is living in constitutional error over the incarceration of pre-trial detainees in the same prison cells with convicts who have been sentenced for crimes and other offenses against the State.

Atty. Darryl Ambrose Nmah, Sr., told journalists Tuesday, 2 November 2021 that the government’s imprisonment of pre-trial detainees and convicts in the same facilities has been happening for too long at the Monrovia Central Prison due to limited prison facilities, even though it’s against their human rights and other international protocols.

“The Constitution says that you can’t put pre-trial detainees in the same prison with a convict who has been charged and sentenced to prison for crimes against the States,” said Atty. Nmah. 

According to him, there should be separate prison facilities across the country for pre-trial detainees and convicts.

Atty. Nmah explained that the only way people should be mixed with convicts is when the crimes for which they are being held are very serious.

In order to address these concerns, Atty. Nmah said the Government of Liberia through Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr., in consultation with the Ministry of Justice, has committed itself to construct new prison facilities across the country to deal with the overpopulation at the Monrovia Central Prison.

According to him, the commitment was made following complaints from the Magistrate in Montserrado County about the crowdedness of the Monrovia Central Prison.

Nmah indicated that the meeting was organized by Chief Justice Korkpor and graced by Justice Minister Cllr. Frank Musa Dean, Assistant Justice Minister for Litigation Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh and other Judicial and Justice Ministry authorities.

The facility was constructed to take at least 375 prisons but it now has 1,390 inmates.

“The Magistrates informed the gathering that the issue is bordering on human rights because there are several international and local human rights organizations that visit the facility and see those things,” Atty. Nmah explained.

According to Nmah, most pre-trial detainees are not under the jurisdiction of the magistrate anymore, saying they are in prison for indictable and bailable offenses that are above the magistrate’s level.

He noted that the Chief Justice has scheduled a meeting with the Circuit Courts to see how best they can also work on these issues for depopulation of the Monrovia Central Prison.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/liberia-supreme-court-condemns-attacks-on-officials-of-the-judiciary/–Edited by Winston W. Parley

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