Monrovia Central Prison Swells With Pre-trial Detainees, Where Is Liberia’s Justice System?

GNN investigation have uncovered that hundreds of Liberians and foreigners are stranded behind bars without trial, some for years, a situation that seems to questioned the justice system of Liberia.

The pre-charge detention period is the period of time during which an individual can be held and questioned by police, prior to being charged with an offence.

Few years ago, the Attorney General of the Republic of Liberia and Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean assured pretrial detainees that they will have their day in court, following prison authorities’ report indicating that 85 percent of the detainees have not faced trial.

With such pronouncement by the Attorney General of Liberia, the situation being faced by the Monrovia Central Prison with the continues swelling of pretrial detainees, our reporter who visited the prison few days realized that this situation continues to increase by the day with no effort being applied by the government.

In an exclusive interview with some of the pre-trial detainees behind their separate detention holding centers, many of whom are young people complained of their long detention without being charged or trial, noting that this situation has made many of their colleagues to die in prison.

“I have been here for 11 years; I was accused of killing my friend in 2012 in New Kru Town, Bushrod Island, but since I was brought here, I am yet to be trialed or charge. I have been here when my parents died, even my wife with two children have died”, the man who declined to be named told our reporter in tears.

Last week one of the pre-trial detainees who was also accused of murder and repeatedly denied allegation was finally released after spending 7 years behind bars with been charged and trialed. Speaking to reporters last week at the Temple of Justice, the man in tears explained how he lost all his family members while behind bars.

He said he was accused falsely of murder, a situation that made him to spent 7 years in prison with trial or been charged of the crime of murder.

Amid the increased wave of pre-trail detention which has made many of the prison facilities including the Monrovia Central Prison to be overcrowded, it is important that the Ministry of Justice designate a team to do a regular routine visit at these detention centers to ascertain these situation and amicably resolve them.

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