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SIERRA LEONE: New film highlights vulnerable youth in prison

New documentary film ‘Libertad’ highlights daily life of youth in Pademba Road Prison


(MissionNewswire) The Salesian Missions Office in Madrid, Spain, has launched the “Innocence behind bars” campaign in collaboration with the new documentary “Libertad,” directed by filmmaker Raúl de la Fuente. The campaign and documentary shed light on the daily life of youth in the Pademba Road Prison in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

The Pademba Road Prison, the country’s largest detention facility, was designed for 324 detainees but currently has more than 1,300 inmates. Overcrowding and a lack of clean water and proper hygiene, in addition to a lack of medical care, contribute to the persistent spread of disease and illness among the inmates, which have led to deaths.

Salesian missionaries visit the prison and provide food and water for young inmates while also offering counseling services, medical assistance and therapy to ensure inmates are mentally fit when their prison terms end. Through the prison program, missionaries reach 250 inmates.

The message of the new campaign and documentary goes beyond this one prison and aims to highlight the more than 1.2 million minors in the world who are deprived of their freedom in prisons, police stations and detention centers.

According to the documentary, most of these youth are there without a trial and without criminal records. Some are imprisoned for sleeping on the street. They do not receive legal assistance, often no one knows they are there, and they share cells with adults accused of violent crimes and sexual assaults.

These youth are deprived of their freedom and see their rights systematically violated. They are treated like criminals when what they need is social support and assistance. Some die without hope or stop eating because they lose the will to live.

Salesian missionaries around the globe help to support these youth, offering them legal and spiritual support and health care, food, and education with the aim to have them more easily be able to reintegrate into society once they are released.

Experts are working and campaigning to find more suitable places for youth who have committed a crime, in lieu of prison, to ensure that children remain safe and have the chance at rehabilitation. The United Nations has proposed sanctions, counseling sessions, social services, probation and supervisory ordinances, among other ideas.

“The great challenge is to understand that by putting an end to the circle of violence we can transform the aggressor’s heart and stop them thinking about revenge,” said Father Agnaldo Soares, a Salesian who works with minors in conflict with the law in Brazil. The goal for Salesians is also to help youth have their basic needs met so they can focus on an education and find hope for the future without violence or resorting to criminal behavior.

“Libertad” premiered Sept. 16 on the Salesian Missions Office Madrid YouTube channel.



ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)

ANS – Spain – “Libertad”: new documentary of “Misiones Salesianas” presents condition of minors in prisons

Salesian Missions – Sierra Leone

Salesian Missions – Spain