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Editorial

Sexual Abuses in Liberian Prisons: Urgent Intervention Needed

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On Tuesday, May 21, 2013, we reported the practice of sodomy among inmates in over-crowded prison cells in many parts of the country. Specifically, our Tuesday’s publication placed emphasis on Nimba County in the north of Liberia where inmates were being pressurized to give themselves to be sodomized by fellow prisoners who have overstayed in cells.

In our report, we quoted an inmate just released from a Nimba prison cell as explaining that he was forcibly sodomized by  fellow inmates as the result of his inability to pay, what he referred to as ‘jail fees’. In Sanniquellie, the Capital of Nimba, another inmate was reported to have undergone medication at a local clinic after being sexually abused in a prison cell.

While family members continue to blame the Liberian Government for the sexual abuses by their male relatives in Nimba prisons, attributions by the criminal justice system in the county  are made either to over-crowdedness of cells as the result of increase in the number of convicts from the courts-something blamed on juries for convicting every suspect that goes to court.

While the defense being staged by the Nimba justice system may be understandable, it is not equally a justification for such an unwholesome practice. Like prison cells in other parts of the country, it only suggests to any well meaning individual that prison cell cells are not monitored by those in whose custody prisoners are.

It also suggests to us that despite the scuffles and loud cries of victims of sodomy in prison cells, interventions by those in whose custody these inmates are exhibit careless attitudes in terms of monitoring their assignments. No doubt, such development is alarming, and there’s an urgent need for the intervention of the Ministry of Justice in Monrovia. Such intervention must also solicit answers to why such ‘evil’ is occurring at detention centres un-noticed. Equally so, authorities of the Ministry of Justice must ensure measures to completely STOP such devilish culture.

The danger of allowing such to continue is that upon their release from detention, there is a high possibility of inmates spreading the practice in their respective communities to the detriment of civility and morality. Therefore, the Government of Liberia, through the Justice Ministry, must act now, in whatever way possible to halt such unwholesome sexual practice in the country’s prisons.

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