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Poor sanitary & hygiene conditions in Police Stations- 2019 State of Human Rights Report reveals

By Ibrahim Tarawallie

The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) has in its State of Human Rights report 2019 revealed that poor sanitary and hygiene conditions were observed in some police stations across the country.

According to the report, the toilet system at the Central Police Station was observed to be completely broken and flooded with water, releasing an overpowering and unbearable stench of urine and faeces.

“There was no water and therefore no bathing facility at the police station. Suspects were compelled to buy drinking water or access some through relatives and some generous police officers,” the report stated.

At the Kailahun Police Station, the report noted that there was no toilet within the police station for suspects- a situation which led to suspects being escorted to neighbouring houses to attend to nature or to take bath.

The situation was similar to that at the Bo Police Division, where the HRCSL, during its monitoring visit on August 28, 2019, observed that there was no toilet facility and that custody officers escorted suspects to an outside toilet situated few yards away from the facility.

The report stated further that safe drinking water at the Bo Police Division was bought by relatives of suspects in custody and sometimes by generous police officers and that the cell was poorly ventilated and suspects slept on the bare floor.

The HRCSL stated that the appalling state of police detention facilities affects the health and psyche of detainees in violation of section 4(e) of the Luanda Guidelines on Arrests, and therefore called on the Ministry of Internal Affairs to give a facelift to police detention facilities.

With regards juvenile detention facilities, dormitories at the Kingtom Remand Home and Approved School were found by the commission to be in poor conditions and that although mattresses and bed covers were available in all centers, they were found in very deplorable conditions.

“Security poses a major challenge for inmates due to the low fence and inadequate number of security personnel at the Approved School and the Kingtom Remand Home in Freetown. The Approved School was noted to be without electricity during the time of visit,” the report states.

The Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs was urged to supply new and adequate foam mattresses and beddings to all juvenile detention facilities and also ensure adequate supply of drugs.

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