By Muhammed S. Bah
President Adama Barrow on Thursday March 2nd pardoned 98 more prisoners. The prisoners are released through a prerogative of mercy by the President. Sixteen of the released prisoners are foreign nationals and majority are Senegalese citizens. Some are Guineans and some from Siera Leone.
According to prison officials Eight six (86) of those released are from the notorious Mile II prisons while the rest are from the Jeswang and Jangjang Bureh prisons. According to officials the pardons was said to be under the auspices of the Interior and Justice minister who made a case for the President to pardon these prisoners. This is the second to third batch of prisoners that were released by the new government since they came into power.
According to justice department records majority of these prisoners were convicted of various crimes most of whom were minor drug offenses. Some were reportedly convicted of robbery, possession of fire arms among other crimes. It wasn’t clear if any of the release prisoners were convicted of rape in which case they might be of danger to the general public. The released prisoners were reunited with their families in a very emotional fashion. Some were seen hugging and weeping while others could not immediately locate their families.
According to government sources President Barrow, the justice department and the interior minister took these steps to release these prisoners because they cannot guarantee that these citizens were fairly prosecuted and convicted. As was customary during the Jammeh regime many citizens were sent to jail without adequate legal representation. It was not unusual to see witness implanting against the accused in the Gambia. Others may have been falsely accused and framed by corrupt police officials who abuse their powers to prosecute such citizens.