By Nelson Manneh
Lamin Jah, an inmate said at the Main Yard of Mile 2 people used to sleep inside the toilets as a result of overcrowding at the cells.
Jah appeared before the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on Thursday, 11th June 2020 to give his account of detention at Mile 2.
He said the cell he was detained in at the main yard is the smallest and the prison wardens used to crowd more than twenty to thirty inmates in that small cell.
“The beds are always full and the ground beds used to be full. There were even some inmates who do not even have places to sleep,” he said.
Jah has been in Mile 2 for eleven years following his life imprisonment conviction on four criminal counts including theft and rape.
Jah testified that while his trial was going on, he was detained at the Security Wing and not the Remand Wing.
“When I was initially taken to the Security Wing, I was sealed (confined) for one month, eighteen days and I was given only a mattress and the cell I was detained, had no mosquito net. It was small. It also had poor ventilation at the time,” he said.
The witness said at the Security Wing, he was not enjoying any privilege because those at the Remand Wing used to receive food from their relatives, but for him he was not given such privileges.
He said the prison wardens used to take inmates at the Security Wing regularly especially those who had problems with former President Yahya Jammeh.
“I spent two years at the Security Wing before I was convicted and sentenced by the court,” he said.
The witness said he was taken back to the security wing after he was convicted by the Court.
The witness said if an inmate got sick, he or she used to go to the staff quarters where there was always a prison warden who attended to sick inmates. He added that sometimes the inmates do not meet any prison warden there so they have to call the one on duty to come and attend to the sick inmate.
He said the prison department does not provide inmates with medication instead they used to ask the families or relatives of the inmate to bring the medicines.
He said inmates used to eat different varieties of food including Pap on weekly basis.
He said they used to give them half bread for breakfast.
“Right now I am having gastric and it sometimes disturbs me,” he said.
The witness said because of his sickness and recommendation given to him by a doctor, his family members are allowed to bring food for him.
He said most of the people who have Beriberi are those who don’t have assistance outside.
“I have seen many inmates who died because of the Beriberi,” he said.
He said, inmates who have Beriberi if you look at them you will be able to recognise the sickness on them.
He said he was tortured by one Ebrima Jammeh who was known as the Chief Torturer. He added that while Jammeh and other prison wardens were beating him, he was asked to admit that he gave one of the inmates Cannabis.
“I suffered a laceration to the extent that if I want to sleep I must lie on my stomach,” he said, adding he conceded to their request even though he knew it was not true.
The witness told the commissioners that there was a time one inmate died in one of the cells at night and the corpse stayed in the cell till the following morning.
He recalled that one Ebrima Joof, an inmate was beaten at the Main Yard Wing by prison wardens including one Chief Kalilu. He detailed that after the beating; the inmate was taken into a cell and was locked up. The witness alleged two days later, the victim was taken to the hospital and was confirmed dead.
Jah alleged that David Colley, the then Director-General of the Prisons was aware of all the beatings that were taking place at Mile 2 adding he was once beaten behind David’s office.
He alleged that the prison authorities do not usually investigate the causes of dead of inmates.