In Sierra Leone’s justice system, children and youth are rarely treated any differently than adults. They often spend excessive time behind bars without charge – considered guilty until proved innocent.

To raise awareness about conditions in detention facilities for juveniles, journalist Ahmed Sahid Nasralla (alias De Monk) has written an excellent article about his recent visit to the remand home for juveniles in Kingtom, Freetown. One of the things he noted was the severe impact of funding constraints on the rehabilitation of detainees.

The government-funded remand home is supposed to be a reformation centre for juveniles, who come in contact with the law, but there’s not much, if any, reform activity going on there at the moment. There is no formal education program in place and this means these school age children, after spending long periods on remand, go back to their communities worse off than they were.

In the article, De Monk also tells the story of Mohamed Sesay*, who has spent three years at the remand home without trial. No indictment papers (the documents required for an accused person to stand trial in the High Court) have been filed, and the complainant has never appeared to pursue the case against the boy.

Read the full story: SIERRA LEONE – Juvenile detention centres lack means to reform inmates.

*Names of inmates in the article are fictional to protect their identities.

Sierra Leones has two remand homes for juvenile suspects and one detention facility for convicted juveniles. All are massively under-funded, and lack of resources for detention facilities have grave consequences for the children waiting for their sentences.

De Monk approached AdvocAid after the Day of the African Child 2016, where we issued a Press Release calling for improved child justice in Sierra Leone. One of AdvocAid’s key recommendations to government and justice sector partners was to urgently allocate more funding to improving the conditions for children behind bars.