The Department of the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation (BCR) of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has received two sets of solar panels worth about US$8,000, to light-up two major correctional facilities’ records’ department and libraries, a release has said.
According to the release, the renewable energy equipment will power major prisons in Kakata, Margibi County, and in Gbarnga, Bong County.
Serving Humanity for Empowerment and Development (SHED), Rural Human Rights Activists Program (RHRAP) and Finn Church Aid in Finland with funding from the European Union (EU) made the donation.
At the presentation of the items in Monrovia on Thursday, August 22, the project manager of SHED, Attorney Godo Kolubah, said that since the inception of the project, it has imparted correction facilities in the two counties by strengthening the rights of prisoners in correctional facilities and building the capacities of the BCR’s officers within the counties.
“We have begun this engagement even far before this year with the MoJ, working together to build the capacity of the Bureau of Corrections and strengthen the work of the judiciary, to ensure speedy hearing of cases and also ensure that the rights of prisoners are respected,” Atty. Kolubah said.
The SHED project improves prison conditions, access to justice and build capacity of correctional officers, police and local communities’ leaders in order to protect the rights of prisoners and strengthen the justice system.
Atty. Kolubah said one of the project’s goals this year was to “support the documentation of the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation (BCR),” as a pilot project in Gbarnga’s and Kakata’s prison facilities.
He said when the project realized that the BCRs in these cities were transmitting information through phone calls that were distorted or inaccurate, they opted to “alleviate the problem” by training staff of the BCRs and donating equipment, which included laptop computers in order to augment their work.
Kolubah added that the project was also concerned about providing reliable electricity to keep those equipment up and running, “realizing that those equipment that have been supplied to the BCRs will require constant energy, because it was important that we provide additional support in terms of the solar panel.”
He said the solar panels are expected to last for the next 17 years, and promised that the project will continue to provide the “necessary support to ensure they are maintained periodically.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Justice Minister for Codification, Cllr. Nyenati Tuan, appreciated the implementing partners as well as EU for the funding and support, while also stressing the importance of protecting the rights of inmates.
“We know that being a prisoner does not eliminate rights, [and] we are happy to receive these items, primarily because we will be on top of the information,” said Cllr. Tuan.
Mentioning the challenges facing correctional officers, Tuan said that the solar panels will help to curb some of the challenges, while assuring that the items will be used for the intended purpose.
Agnieszka Napierala, Program Manager for Governance and Rule of Law, Gender focal Point of EU, said that the mission is “very happy to support, but the only thing is that they are hoping that the solar panels will be installed very shortly,” and that they will be maintained by the MoJ in order to serve the intended purpose.