BRIEFINGS FROM THE SIERRA LEONE CORRECTIONAL SERVICE ON THE INCIDENCE OF 29TH APRIL, 2020

CAUSES

  • overcrowding
  • Pademba road Correctional Centre houses all categories of inmates (especially high risk)
  • On that day, there were 1, 300 inmates (400% overcrowding), in a centre built to hold 324 inmates
  • Staff shortage (40% under strength)
  • Covid- 19’s outbreak prevented recruitment, which was in the pipeline
  • Index covid- 19 case led to drastic measures instituted that restricted movement within the facility
  • Suspension of court sittings
  • Closure of the tuck shop (retail outlet within)

RIOT

  • Started around 7:30 am and ended around 11 am
  • Inmates damaged workshop doors and set stores and some other buildings on fire
  • held some officers hostage, and pelted stones at officers
  • rivalry inmate groups within the centre clashed and wreaked havoc on themselves
  • OSD personnel initially fired teargas into the centre to restore sanity but failed
  • armed personnel forced their way in and used reasonable force to restore calm

DAMAGE ASSESSMENT

  • stores, catering, reception, hospital, and workshop (Le 20 billion)
  • inmates refused to yield to orders and return to their cells

AFTERMATH

  • 31 fatalities, including 1 Corrections Officer
  • 12 inmates died from gunshot wounds
  • 16 inmates died from blunt force
  • 2 inmates died of illnesses
  • 21 inmates sustained injuries
  • 32 Corrections Officers sustained injuries
  • 6 of the corpses have been identified and given befitting burials by their families
  • 24 are still in the morgue, unidentified

MOVING FORWARD

  • The setting- up of a riot command post
  • Psychosocial support to affected persons
  • Multi- sectorial engagement to ensure better reforms in the SLCS
  • The relocation of Pademba Road Correctional Centre to the outskirts of Freetown (Songo)