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SIERRA LEONE GOVERNMENT PRESS RELEASE
AS President Bio grants them Amnesty….
AS President Bio grants them Amnesty: 10 inmates at Approved School Set Free
(SLENA, 23 May, 2019): It was a moment of joy for ten children who were serving their jail terms at the Approved School Correction Centre at Portee, Old Road, Wellington in Freetown after they were set free on May 20, 2019 by the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA) together with Prison Watch Sierra Leone and Defense for Children International (DCI,) among others.
It is worth noting that Approved School was established by an Act of Parliament to rehabilitate and reform children who come in conflict with the law. Since its inception, the Approved School remains the only Correctional Centre in the country for children. These ten freed inmates from various districts were incarcerated for larceny, fraudulent conversion, house breaking, throwing of missiles, causing grievous bodily harm and murder, among others.
While addressing stakeholders present, the officer in charge of the inmates at the Approved School, Mr. Rogers disclosed that besides the government, other organizations like the Prison Watch, DCI have been playing a pivotal role in maintaining, sustaining and transforming inmates.
He maintained that the ten freed inmates were granted amnesty by His Excellency, President Julius Maada Bio after several efforts exerted by MSWGCA and other partners. He emphasized that over the years, campaigns were mounted to get amnesty from the past government but those efforts yielded no dividends.
On her part, the Deputy Chief Social Services Officer, Mrs. Mariatu Bangura expressed her thanks and appreciation to his Excellency the President Julius Maada Bio and his government for heeding to the cries of the children and their parents. According to Mrs. Bangura, this is the very first time since the history of Sierra Leone for government to grant these children amnesty and as a ministry it is a welcoming idea.
She noted thus “I can see a brighter future in your faces, go out, empower and make yourselves useful citizens and become self-reliant”.
Admonishing the freed inmates, the Director of Children’s Affairs said “You can be very good children, because I saw all your results both NPSE and BECCE and your performances were excellent. To me, it is an indicator that you can do more if set free”.
She added that the children are the future adults of this nation, and their communities are counting on them for the betterment of this nation.
According to the Head of Office at Prison Watch Sierra Leone, John L. Calar, his organization has been providing lunch, school fees, text books, psychosocial support programs every Thursday to these inmates.
Parents and other members of the communities were called upon to accept the freed children and desist from stigmatizing them as it will undermine their self-confidence. Prison Watch Sierra Leone provided the inmates with envelops as they were ready to go back to their respective communities.