Monday, May 25, 2020

Should Prisoners Be Sentenced To Hard Labour?

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

One of the most pitiful scenes to see as one drives on the highway to Banjul, is prisoners using crude tools to cut grass, which should be the function of well-paid cleansing service workers. Clearing and tidying side works and roads are the jobs of councils.

Those who perform such tasks should not be looked down upon. They should be regarded as honourable people. Imprisonment deprives a prisoner of liberty to exercise freedom of movement, assembly and expression. This is penalty paid for being found guilty of an offence. To add hard labour to the price is to stigmatize certain jobs as not fit for the ordinary person to perform.

It is necessary to look at our statute books and eradicate any punishment classified as hard labour. The prison should be an institution where prisoners acquire knowledge, skills and values in order to come out and function as better citizens. Prisoners should not be stigmatized and work should not be seen as degrading punishment.

The human rights commission should look into such conduct and advise the authorities on what is the appropriate conduct in preserving the rights of such a vulnerable group that are completely blocked from exercising their freedom of movement.

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