By Yankuba Jallow
Members of the National Assembly Committee on Human Rights and Constitutional Matters have on Thursday revealed that they have seen some detainees in prisons who were remanded with forged remand warrants by the police.
The Director of Prisons, the Inspector General of Police, the Minister of Interior and other security stakeholders appeared before the Committee on Thursday, 5th November 2020.
In The Gambia, magistrates and judges are the only people who sign remand warrants, but the Committee found out in their fact-finding mission that some of the detainees were remanded, but they have never step their feet in court. They came straight from the police to prison.
Nominated member Ya Kumba Jaiteh said police officers would collect remand warrants from court officials and sign them without authority.
“There are some detainees in cell who never step their feet in court. These people are detained without any court appearance. This is wrong – both the police and prison should look into this,” She said.
Honourable Jaiteh said the prison authorities are complaining of overcrowding, but they would admit people into the cells with forged remand warrants. She called on the prisons to always verify remand warrants before admitting the detainees.
“The police should not sign remand warrants,” honourable Jaiteh said.
“Are you alleging?” IGP Mamour Jobe asked.
“This is what is happening,” Jaiteh responded.
IGP Jobe said the remand warrants are not under the custody of the police, adding it is with the courts.
“It is the magistrates who should sign the remand warrants, but if the police are doing it, it is worrying,” Jobe said.
Neneh MC Cham of the National Agency for Legal Aid said some people are detained in the prisons not by the courts.
“I am surprised that the IGP is surprised. It is happening,” Lawyer Cham said.
Honourable Fatoumatta Njai for Banjul South said some of the prisoners came from the police straight to the prison without passing through the courts.
The Director of Operations at the Prisons L. Sowe said they only detain people with remand warrants.
“It is not easy to verify signatures on remand warrants. Yes, there are people detained without court appearance, but we always do a follow-up with the police to come for them,” Sowe said.
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