By Patience Loum, Banjul, The Gambia – Wednesday, August 12, 2020.
The National Human Rights Commission of The Gambia has asked its government to consider pardoning prisoners to decongest prisons under prerogative of Mercy.
The constitution provides for prerogative of Mercy under Section 82 of the 1997 constitution.
The section allows the president to pardon inmates convicted and are serving time for offenses that are nonviolent or not of a sexual nature.
This is one of the nine points recommended by Human Rights commission on Monday 10 August 2020 to the government in the move to decongest the prisons and curb the spread of the COVID-19 amongst the inmates.
This move according to the NHRC would help in controlling the spread of the Coronavirus thereby providing a safe environment for inmates and those working in there.
The NHRC also recommends the government to provide facemasks to all inmates in the light of introduced guidelines of compulsory wearing of facemasks.
“That face masks be provided to all detainees, remanded and convicted prisoners, police officers, prison officers and all those who come into contact with detainees.”
Amongst other things, the NHRC urged for the improvement of ventilation services for the inmates and security officers.
“That ventilation in all police cells and detention centers be greatly improved. The NHRC’s routine monitoring of detention facilities found the ventilation in sites visited to be extremely poor,” the statement further reads.
The surge in Coronavirus infections and increase in mortality rates prompted the government of Gambia to declare a 21-day state of public emergency on August 5 and a nationwide curfew that was effective on August 6, 2020.
Gambia has since the outbreak of Coronavirus reported 1,346 cases with 32 deaths and 227 recoveries.