Afflicted with Hepatitis ‘B’ -FIND Decries Prison Condition in Gbarnga

MONROVIA:  The Foundation for International Dignity (FIND) has reported that some inmates at the Gbarnga Central Prison are currently suffering from hepatitis B and other illnesses. The institution through its Executive Director Aaron Juakollie reveal that an inmate identified as Bakaline Kanneh, who was charged with alleged rape, died in March of this year as a result of the deplorable condition of the Gbarnga Prison.

He noted that on July 29, 2023 inmate Moses Dennis allegedly charged with Statutory Rape died and another inmate Benson Kula charged with Statutory Rape also died on August 10 of this year.

In a release, the Foundation said despite the many deaths, about four inmates are currently affected with serious illnesses ranging from mental problems and hepatitis B virus.

The foundation at the same time quoted the assigned nurse at the facility as informing them that the Gbarnga Central Prison currently hosts 296.

According to research, the prison was built to host only 130 inmates. Among those detained are 212, six of whom are female along with and two Juvenile male detainees.

Executive Director Juakollie also revealed that 84 inmates are convicts, two adult females, and two male juveniles.

Relying on Chapter 13.1.1 and Chapter 34.17 of the Criminal Procedure Law and the 1986 Liberia Constitution Article 11, and Articles 21 as the basis for his assertions on treatment meted towards the inmates, the FIND Executive Director decries the condition of inmates at the Gbarnga Central Prison as being crappy and seriously, and one that needs urgent attention, disclosing that the conduction of inmates at the Gbarnga Central Prison depicts that their fundamental human rights have been abused and violated by the government of Liberia in line with the Criminal Procedure Law.

Chapter 13 and 13.1 of the Criminal Procedure Law states that “A person in custody for the commission of a capital offense shall, before conviction, be entitled to his right to be admitted to bail unless the proof is evident or the presumption great that he is guilty of the offense.

On the hearing of an application for admission to bail made before indictment by a person in custody for the commission of a capital offense, the prosecution must show that the proof is evident or the presumption great that the accused is guilty of the offense.

The group also cited 34.23. of the law ‘Detention of Prisoners Beyond the Termination of Sentence Because of Mental Disease or Defect,’ apparently referring to the case of those who they said suffer mental health condition in the prison.

When two physicians approved by the Department of Justice find upon examination that a prisoner about to be discharged from an institution suffers a mental disease or defect of such a nature that his release or discharge will endanger public safety or the safety of the prisoner, the warden or other administrative head of the institution shall apply to the court which committed the prisoner for an order transferring him to a mental institution outside the supervision of the Department of Justice, according to legal pundits.

Accordingly, the law holds that the judge shall grant the order if he finds it truthful, after a hearing, at which time the prisoner may be represented by counsel, that release of the prisoner would endanger the public safety or his safety.

The commitment to the mental institution shall be for a period of six months and may be extended on order of the court for successive periods of six months so long as the release of the prisoner would be dangerous.

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