Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A PLATE OF RICE FOR SEX? Poor Conditions In Monrovia Prison Cells

08/02/2010 - J. Rufus Paul

Source: FrontPage Africa

Monrovia –

Owing to the lack of adequate food supply, a plate of rice has become a commodity traded for homosexuality at the Monrovia Prison Cells.

Prisoners in Liberia suffer malnutrition, overcrowding, grossly inadequate medical care, and the risk of rape or torture. Some of them are detained for years in such conditions even before they are brought to trial. According to prison compound source, food provided by the government for prisoners has been redirected into personal use by Correction and Rehabilitation officials at the Ministry of Justice thereby rendering inmates supplies inadequate. Our sources noted that owing to the lack of adequate food supply, a plate of rice has become a commodity traded for homosexuality at the Monrovia Prison Cells.

Bobby Brown, 29, who has been serving a prison sentence at the Monrovia Prison Compound on Center Street for committing an armed robbery offense has died as a result of poor health condition. He was pronounced dead on July 29, 2010 by medical doctors at the John F. Kennedy hospital where the Ministry of Justice took him for treatment after months of severe sickness in his prison cell.

Another inmate, Lucky Ben told FrontPageAfrica on his sick bed at JFK “I got sick and nearly died in prison that is the reason I’m here undergoing treatment. The doctor said I need to take an operation on my heart, but such operation cannot be performed here only out of the Country. I got sick right in the prison compound owing to the poor conditions in the cells. No good treatment for inmates. Human beings cannot live the way the prisoners are living. You need to go and see for yourself”.

Ben is one inmate at the Monrovia Central Prison accused of theft of property but has not appeared in court. According to him, he has been in jail for over five months without seeing his accuser. He is currently suffering from a heart disease he apparently developed in prison.

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has failed to provide basic nutrition, sanitation, and decent housing facility for prisoners, and of the criminal justice system to ensure speedy trials and appeals. Poor conditions and minimal medical care for inmates has contributed to the death of at least six prisoners from the Monrovia Prison Compound in recent times while many others have fallen sick.

Liberian prisoners are starved, packed into cells unfit for human habitation, and face beatings at the hands of certain guards or fellow inmates. Children, pregnant women, pre-trial detainees, and convicted criminals are condemned to brutal treatment including not eating on time at prison centers across the Country.

The Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government and its partners have failed to establish improvements in prison conditions and medical care, and the criminal justice system has failed to respect the rights of prisoners.

Prisoners frequently spend years in prison awaiting resolution of their case. Hundreds of prisoners are not serving time following a conviction but are in prison on remand, awaiting trial or other legal action. They frequently have no access to a lawyer or to bail and may wait months even for an initial appearance before a judge.

Apart from Correction or Rehabilitation centers where inmates are kept, many police station cells in Monrovia are so overcrowded or tight that some prisoners are forced to sleep seated or in shifts. Police officers have been accused on many occasions for routinely beating prisoners, or force them naked into small, dark cells where they are kept far above the statutory period before sending them to court.

However, according to Brown’s mother, Mary Jones, her son’s condition had already gotten horrible in his prison cell before he was handcuffed and brought to JFK amidst counts of bureaucracies from the Ministry of Justice. “When I saw Bobby, I knew he was already a dead man. I saw death in his face; he could not stand, eat nor talk”.

Aging madam Junes noted that “I suggested that I take my son for treatment and turn him over to the MOJ thereafter, but I was pushed around many times in vain. As I speak to you now, his body is deposited at the JFK morgue and MOJ has also refused to turn his corpse over to me for burial”.

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Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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