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GAMBIA: DEPUTY OMBUDSMAN SAMBA BADJIE CALLS FOR IMPROVEMENT IN PRISONERS DIET

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The Deputy Ombudsman Technical, Samba Badjie, on Wednesday, while testifying before the National Assembly Select Committee on Local Government, IEC, and Ombudsman called for improvement in prisoner’s diet, describing the current allotment as “very small.” 

“My main concern here is the prisoner’s diet. Any person that is detained at the Police Station going by the Police Act is entitled to D5 per day as their meal. That is what is in the Act. So, I am saying this so that the National Assembly Members can pick it up. D5 per day, per person under detention, and we all know D5 cannot feed anybody, so the burden lies on the station officers. 

“Imagine going to Bundung Police Station and meeting 10 to 20 people in the cell, and it is the duty or the responsibility of the Station Officer to feed those people. What do you expect? He doesn’t have enough for a salary, yet whatever he has he is expected to feed 10,15 or more detainees under his or her supervision. That alone definitely will encourage things that we don’t want to see, and that is corruption,” Mr. Badjie expressed. 

Mr. Badjie stated that people always complain that the Police are corrupt, but he believes that it is the situation that exposed them to corruption

“Naturally, we say the police are corrupt, yes! But sometimes I might believe that it is the condition or situation that we have in place that exposed them (Police) or is contributing to corruption. When we go to the Police Station, if any problem comes, they will say go to this Station Officer (S.O) and the Station Officer doesn’t have an imprest to feed these people. 

“If at the end of the month the Station Officer has 30 or 40 detainees in his or her station. Just multiply 30 by D5 and see. D5 cannot feed anybody. So, I just want us to look at this. We definitely need to improve the prisoner’s diet,” Mr. Badjie stated. 

Mr. Badjie also talked about the issue of mobility, which he said is part of their challenges at the office level. 

“The other area that I want to talk about is mobility. What you had about all these visits, investigations, and asset declarations. When assets are declared, there is a need for verification on the declared asset. How do you verify? It requires movement. You have to either go to the Banks or to the properties that they have or the areas they claim to have a land or a house. It all requires movement. 

“For an institution that is struggling to have a vehicle. How do we expect to do investigations, verification, monitoring of prisons and all these other responsibilities is difficult. That is the situation we found ourselves in. Many people are now coming to the office to seek redress. But we are very much challenged in trying to meet the needs or the demands of the public and for me, mobility is very key and without mobility there is not much we can do,” he decried to the Committee.

He made these remarks at the national Assembly during their discussion with the National Assembly Select Committee on Regional Government, IEC and Ombudsman. 

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