Thursday, November 12, 2009

No food: Prisoner released

Magistrate confirms

The Associate Magistrate of the Magisterial Court in Tienii, Grand Cape Mount County, has claimed the Liberian Government is failing to provide food for prisoners at various detention centers in the county.

“We, as judges, magistrates and including law enforcement officers oftentimes ask the victims or complainants to provide food for suspects while they’re in detentions; and in some instances, we take up the initiative because the government is not doing so now,” Associate Magistrate Jacob Rogers told our reporter.

Mr. Roger in a telephone interview with The Monitor said although it is government’s responsibility to cater to suspects while in detention awaiting prosecution, but the government currently lacks the capacity.

Responding to allegation that he had released a rape suspect because of the lacked of food for the suspect and transportation for court officials, the Associate Magistrate said he only set free a burglary suspect who he said had spent a week in detention without food and beyond statutory 48 hours.

The Magistrate was recently accused of releasing a man who allegedly raped a 13-year-old girl in Tienii, Tewor District, because the victim’s mother failed to provide L$1500.00 to facilitate court proceeding including the daily ‘feeding fee of L$50.00’ required.

“We do not have our own detention center, so we use the police’s facilities to keep suspects, and that was where we had this fellow who’s charge sheet shows that he was arrested for burglary and not rape as is being alleged by this family without the accusers presence. So I ordered my clerk to have him released because he was being kept without food”, he noted.

The government’s failure to provide food for suspects at detention centers, Rescue Alternative, an advocacy group asserts, is a complete violation of accused rights.

Several attempts to contact the Solicitor General were unsuccessful as he was said to be out of Office and his mobile phone rang endlessly.

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