Commissioner of Prisons Bubacar Jatta
By Yankuba Jallow
Bubacar Jatta continues with his testimony at the TRRC and told Commissioners that Mile II Prisons should be condemned and a new prison constructed.
“Let us build a modern prison and condemn Mile II. It is not even good for animal habitation. The odour at Mile II is not good and officers do not receive health allowances,” he said.
Jatta who was speaking before the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission on Tuesday January 22nd 2019, was the 8th witness on day 11 of the TRRC sittings.
On why he stated that Mile II Prisons should be condemned, Jatta said the prison is not for human habitation; that it is not even good for animals much more human beings. He explained that the prison is located in a swampy area and the site is a good breeding ground for mosquitoes.
“I do not even pray for my tamed animal to be taken there, because of the harsh conditions,” he said.
He opined that the whole prison system in the country should be revived, for new structures to be built. “The cells should be rebuilt because they are not suitable for human habitation,” Jatta asserted.
He said prison officers are not armed and this may in an unfortunate situation, lead to loss of life if prisoners’ revolt. “If there is chaos or commotion that is the time Government comes to the aid of Prison officers, but they will not do anything to promote the welfare of prisoners,” he said.
He said the Women’s Wing of Mile II Prisons is small and should be expanded; that homosexuality sometimes occurs at the prisons due to the overcrowding. “New structures should be built so as to avoid congestion” he said. He emphasized that prison officers are faced with so many challenges including low salary, lack of motivation such as good incentives like allowances, and others.
He recommended that each Region of the country should have their own prison facility to avoid overcrowding at Mile II.
Jatta said he treated Ebrima Chongan, a former Assistant Inspector General of Police, Captain Mamat O. Cham and RSM Jeng, following their torture allegedly meted on them by Sanna Sabally, Edward Singhateh, Sadibou Hydara and other soldiers. As the Prison Medic, Jatta described the condition of RSM Jeng as the most complicated amongst the three, because he had difficulty to move his neck.
He asserted that many of the detainees in the aftermath of the 1994 coup, suffered from psychological torture; that they were not mentally balanced. On what caused the psychological trauma, the witness said it was as a result of fear; that three inmates were taken out by the alleged torturers mentioned above, and never returned.
“The inmates thought that Chongan, Captain Mamat Cham and RSM Jeng, were executed because they heard gun shots and the soldiers told them that they will be coming for them next time round. The inmates were in fear,” he explained. He added that Sanna Sabally ordered for the detention of a prison warden named Jobarteh.
“Sanna came for inspection at night and he did not meet Jobarteh, who had the keys of the cells in his possession. He ordered for his arrest,” the witness explained; that weeks later, Jobarteh was released from detention and Sanna Sabally and Sadibou Hydara were brought in as detainees.
“This time, Jobarteh inspected Sanna Sabally. I even treated Sadibou Hydara and Sanna Sabally following the injuries they sustained from an alleged torture by soldiers,” he said.
He said Sanna Sabally complained of headache and Sadibou told him that he was a high blood patient.
“I saw multiple injuries on the bodies of both Sanna and Sadibou. I applied medicine on their wounds,” he said.
AT THE TRRC: ‘Mile II Should Be Condemned’ Prisons Commissioner
Commissioner of Prisons Bubacar Jatta