Group photo after the forum in Sanniquellie, Nimba County
The Magistrate at Sanniquellie magistrate Court in Nimba County, Magistrate Julius S. Brown has alarmed the over crowdedness of Sanniquellie’s Prison compound in that part of the Country. Serving as a facilitator at a forum organized by Rescue Alternative Liberia (RAL), Magistrate brown told participants to always have proof of their cases through pieces of evidence, witnesses, among others or else; it may be difficult in winning their cases. The Magistrate said he wouldn’t hesitate releasing pretrial detainees who are held beyond statutory limit of 10-15 days at magisterial court levels.
“The prison center was built for 75 persons, but today we have over 300 prisoners. For us Magistrates, we have time to hear cases which is within ten to fifteen days. More than those days without established evidence, the detainee will be released for failure to provide evidence. This will help decongest the prison facilities,” Magistrate Brown said.
During the forum in Sanniquellie, Nimba County on Friday March 29, 2019, the exuberance citizens, police officers and magistrate extolled RAL for such forum that brought security officers, judges and citizens together in fighting crimes and reducing pretrial detentions in the county.
At the interactive forum, all of the participants expressed their disappointments and vowed to work together in making the community, country safe for all and work toward reducing pretrial detention and over crowdedness of prison centers.
The forum at the Sustainable Actions for Youth Development (SAYD) Hall in Sanniquellie City, Nimba County brought together 11 police officers, market women, high school students, human right activists, magistrates, community leaders among others.
Rescue Alternatives Liberia, the local NGO has over the years been providing alternatives to enhancing human rights, rule of law, peace and democracy building and victim’s recovery.
The organization is currently implementing a project called ‘Community Policing Initiative, A Prisoner’s Rights and Police Reform in collaboration with the Liberia National Police (LNP) aim at uniting community, police and judges with a pledge: “my police, my respect, my support; while Police Officers are saying: my community, my police, my employers, my strength.
Serving as one of the facilitators, the Deputy Nimba County Police Commander, Supt. Foster F. Varney called on the citizens to respect and trust the police officers because they are trained in accordance with international standards and as such, they are all professionals.
Officer Varney who drilled the participants through the roles of the police lamented that the entire county has only one pickup for patrol which is serving as serious impediment to their work.
He however assured the citizens that the police will continue to work in their interest despite challenges confronting them
“We really need your assistance in fighting crimes, in making the communities peaceful, please help us community leaders. Don’t hide criminals, drug dealers etc. Don’t obstruct the work of the police in making arrest. Investigation doesn’t mean detention. We will continue to do routine patrols in the county, communities, create awareness and please report all threats,” Officer Varney said.
At the same time, Rescue Alternatives Liberia (RAL), Program Coordinator Sam Nimely has pledged the unflinching supports of his organization in ensuring the community, police and judges have harmonious relationship in the interest of the country. The forum is in ten of the 15 counties of Liberia and hope to extent to the rest.