President Adama Barrow of The Gambia has ordered the release of 98 more prisoners from the country’s notorious Mile II prisons.
This latest decision comes close to two weeks after he pardoned over 170 inmates from the same facility as part of the country’s 52nd Independence Day celebration which coincided with his historic swearing-in ceremony last month.
Local media reports that prison authorities on Thursday night began the mass release of inmates held in the dreaded facility. The prisons is reputed to be where former leader, Yahya Jammeh, detained most opponents and media personnel during his over two-decades rule.
The new Interior Minister, Mai Ahmad Fatty, visited the prison weeks ago to assess the situation of inmates. He was forced to render apologies to some inmates who had been held for years without charge promising that the rule of law was the ‘new order’ under the Adama Barrow government.
Rights campaigners have deplored the conditions of Gambian jails which under Jammeh could hardly be accessed. Jammeh has in the past also pardoned prisoners even though some of his opponents died in custody.
Barrow’s government is looking to reverse the human rights record of the country – which was tainted by Jammeh’s highhandedness. Barrow has gone to to make strong hints of reforms in country’s prisons.
Jammeh was defeated in presidential elections last December by the then opposition coalition candidate, Adama Barrow. He initially accepted the results before back tracking – a decision that put the country on edge as his mandate run out on January 19.
Barrow was aided by the regional bloc, ECOWAS, to take his first oath in Senegal after which regional forces were deployed to oust Jammeh. The latter agreed to fly into exile after mediation by his Guinean and Mauritanian peers. He is currently in Equatorial Guinea.