Liberia: LNBA Wants Gov’t Construct More Prison Facilities

An executive member of the Liberia National Bar Association, Cllr. T. Emmanuel Tomah, is calling on the government to construct more prison facilities to curtail overcrowding of prison centers.

Speaking recently at the opening of the May Term of Court in Sanniquellie, he said the present day prison facilities were built at a time when the population was much less and also when the level of crimes were low.

Cllr. Tomah, who is also a Secretary General of Nimba Bar Association, said if the government builds a prison In Tappita, the magistrates in that part of the county will not send detainees or any convicted person to Sanniquellie.

“If you have a prison facility in Johnsonville, magistrates around there wouldn’t send prisoners to South Beach or Central Prison,” he said.

“We want reform in the justice system, because most of the prison facilities we have now were built more than 40 years ago, when the population was less than what is it today,” he said.

He explained the conduct of the society was different before the 15-year civil war, where the children who were five years old when the war started turned 20 years old during the cessation of the hostilities and the only thing they could see was war or violence.

“This country has not transitioned fully from violence. The crime rate is much higher than the prewar and in association with population growth, it makes the prison congested these days,” he said.

Cllr. Tomah’s statement came when the Resident Judge of Nimba, Judge Roland Dahn, called for the decongestion of the prison facility, urging lawyers and party litigants to fast-track their cases.

He described the current congestion of Sanniquellie prison as ‘alarming’ and said the congestion is not the court’s making, therefore the court should not be blamed.

Judge Dahn told the lawyers to dwell on substantive issues and stop filing bills or motions to delay cases.

However, Cllr. Tomah, on behalf of the LNBA, called on the government to increase prison facilities to enhance the justice system.

He said the justice system is becoming too expensive in the country and called for reform, adding, “the person who carries complaint to court underwrites the entire cost of all the expenses until the accused is taken to jail, while at the same time grieving,” he said.