PFL renovates prison facilities, appeals for more help
Prison Fellowship Liberia (PFL) has appealed to the United Nations Development Program, the United States Embassy in Liberia and other international partners for assistance to help improve prison conditions across the country.
Country Director, Reverend Francis Kollie, said there are multiple challenges facing the Liberian prison system.
Officially handing over keys to the newly renovated library, records room and warehouse to the Ministry of Justice in Monrovia, Rev. Kollie said Prison Fellowship Liberia will continue to buttress efforts by the Liberian government and international partners to improve prison conditions to meet international standards.
The facilities were refurbished by Prison Fellowship Liberia in partnership with Logos Hope.
The library and record room have been stacked with about 2,000 books and furniture for use by inmates and officers of the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation at the Ministry of Justice, among others.
The program was graced by senior staff of Prison Fellowship Liberia, Colonel Varney Lake, Superintendent of the Monrovia Central Prison, among others.
PFL spent over 10,000 United States Dollars on renovating the library, record room, and Monrovia Central Prison warehouse.
The PFL country director noted that there are still multiple challenges such as lack of adequate prison rehabilitation programs, overcrowding of prisons, lack of food storage and adequate medical facilities and supplies as well as insufficient space to accommodate prisoners and detainees in all 16 prisons in the country.
“Most of the detention facilities are not human rights and rehabilitation friendly due to less support to the prison institutions in Liberia,” he said, and added, “It is against this backdrop that the PFL continues to seek assistance from friendly partners, including the United Nations agencies, embassies and other humanitarian organizations such as Logos Hope International who partnered with the PFL to carry out renovation of these facilities.”
“They provided partial funding about 45 percent while the PFL provided 55 percent of funding and materials to get this job done.
It is our hope and aspiration that our efforts in providing decent prison conditions will add value and improve our human rights records that have been tainted over the years especially, prisoners’ rights as we all are aware of this fact.”
Reverend Kollie stressed that reconstruction of Harper Prison in Harper City, Maryland County is vital to restoring prison dignities in Liberia’s judicial reforms.
“To the Liberian government, we want to remind the Justice Ministry that we are still waiting on the release of 500 prisoners out of our detention and prison centers as mandated by President George Weah because we think that the delay is creating lots of uncertainties in the minds of prisoners across the country.”
He disclosed that in the last two years with support from UNDP, UN Women, UNICEF, OSIWA and others, PFL has provided legal assistance to over 3,000 prisoners, who came into contact and conflict with the law and rehabilitated over 500 prisoners across the country.
Receiving the keys, the Director of Prison at the Ministry of Justice, Reverend Samuel Kwaida, disclosed that the Bureau of Corrections at the Ministry of Justice has begun selection of names of inmates who will qualify for the executive clemency granted by President Weah recently.
According to him, Liberia’s prison system has about 800 convicted inmates and the executive clemency cannot be extended to pre-trial detainees.
He cautioned the Superintendent of the Monrovia Central Prison to be appreciative of the gesture from the Prison Fellowship Liberia by maintaining the facilities.
Reverend Kwaida assured the Country Director of PFL that the facilities will be used for their intended purposes.
The Director of Alternative Dispute Resolution Program at the Ministry of Justice, Gobah Anderson, said that since his department’s establishment, PFL had been the first and only institution that has made donations to the department. Editing by Jonathan Browne