Waiting for Justice, Waiting for an opportunity.

Fernando Moleres

2010 - 2012

This project means to divulge the suffering in the lives of young minors after their incarceration and the new realities these ex-prisoners face in Sierra Leone. I came across these boys in the maximum-security prison of Pademba, where they were serving time alongside 1,300 adult prisoners and under terrible conditions. The juveniles are released after long periods in prison without rehabilitation The lack of opportunities when they go out is directly related with recidivism rates.

Publication of my photographic work on these jailed minors was widespread in 2011 and 2012 and exhibitions such as the World Press Photo. However, the story did not transcend beyond acquainting a broad audience with this ugly tragedy that encompasses dozens of minors in Sierra Leone jails and thousands in all of Africa.

Seeing there was no specific help to be found, I created the non-governmental organization (NGO) Free Minor Africa (http://www.freeminorafrica.org). This organization directly offers assistance to minors and affords them an opportunity to reintegrate into society. I began with the young people I met in Pademba prison and there have been encouraging results. I believe documenting the changes in these youths and their return to society provides positive examples for an audience to become aware and want to help.

In this series i speak about Abdul Sesay an orphan living during years in Freetown streets. He was accused in 2010 for a minor offense and send to maximun security prison of Pademba. The day that i met hedaily had not received the portion of rice and water. In october 2012 Free Minor Africa was present during his trial and was paifd the bail for a mobile phone . Now he is in Saint Michael center where he lives and he has return to school.

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  • Isaka, takes several days lying on balcony´s floor of the infirmary with severe dysentery ,he cannot stand up. He has not received visits from his imprisonment in 2008. He was accused of stealing fishing nets. Pending trial.

  • Abdul Sesay On 23 oct was discharge on the trial in the juvenile court after Fernando paid the cost of the mobile to the owner. Then the project Free Minor africa buy cloths , any thing necessary to go to Saint Michael rehabilitation center.

  • Food scarcity requires to remand prisoners (240) to ensure food delivery . There is only one solid meal daily consisting of rice and leaves . Juvenile are the big losers of the distribution of food and water. The distribution of water is a big problem with one third of a liter daily that is not always guaranteed. If you have money you can buy water or food. But the vast majority of prisoners dont receive visits and therefore have no access to money.

  • Abdul Sesay was jailed on 26 July 2010 in remand section of Pademba prison , the maximun security prison of Sierra Leone.
    This day that i met him in the cell he was not taken the meal and the water that they get per day. Why? because he was to small to fight for food.

  • Abdul Sesay attendind the trial in the juvenile court in Freetown 23 oct 2012.
    Abdul was accused of steal a mobile phone from a man. On 23 oct he was discharge after Fernando paid the cost of the mobile to the owner. Then he was released and he went to the rehabilitation center of Saint Michael where he is living .
    Two years before , August 2010, he was send to adult court with 14 years old and then to Pademba prison for adult prisoners , it is an example of Sierra Leone Justice.

  • Abdul Sesay at class 5 of primary school with much jounger students. he is very keen to go to school and recover the lost time on the streets... he is living in Saint Michael center 20 km far from Freetown.

  • Every morning dozens of prisioners from Pademba prisons are taken to the court . Many of them need to go many times before having a final decision. They can be remand prisoners during years before have a sentence. In Pademba they are more than 1300 prisoners.

  • Inmates bathing with rainwater. The raining season has benefits because the inmates can have a free bath .
    One of the main problem in Sierra Leone prisons is the lack of water. There is not running water. Sometimes there is not drink water for all except you have money, if you want to have a bath you need to pay 1000 leones (0.25U$) for a bucket. The raining season is a blessing time.

  • 30 m2 cell for 60 inmates and 16 hours inside with a bucket as toillet. Most prisoners have scabies and others skin infectious diseases. they spent eight months without receiving a bar of soap. The biggest problem is the lack of drinking water. Remand prisoner block in Pademba.

  • Abdul Sesay on 23 oct he was freed from indictment charges Then i took him to the rehabilitation center of Saint Michael where he took a bath from long time ago.

  • Abdul Sesay teaching swimming to his friend Michael. Both live in Saint Michael center and go to the same class.

  • Abdul Fofana take part in gospel rehearsal in pavillion nº 4.
    He was 16 years old and student when he was arrested in 05/11/2009.Acussed for his uncle of stealing 15 millions leones ( 4.000 U$). he spent four and a half months in a police station. he is still on trial. In the prison. he is trainee in the making shoes prison whorkshop.

  • Abdul Sesay , 16 years, is worried about his future till now is under Free Minor Africa program in Saint Michael center but the future is uncertain and he knows that if he return to live on the streets the risk of recedivism is high.
    He has been injured with a blade several times , one was made for another street boy fighting for a place to sleep during the rain season.
    He has been leaving on the streets for the last five years and on 14 years old was sent to maximum security prison of Pademba.

  • Ibrahim Sesay being interrogated by prisoners for the disappearance of a pair of slipper of a cell.Ibrahim case : he was accused of stealing a mobile at his school. He was arrested on 08.24.2009 and spent eight days at the police station without food. The police report awarded him 19 years instead of the 14 years he says he has. Sentenced to 18 months in prison in Pademba.

  • Officer in the registration room. In Pademba are around 1300 prisoners and for experience it is not easy to find a prisoner records. There are many names and surnames similar and carelessness and negligence of the officers is evident. Their salary of 60 U$ per month dont help to improve the situation.Many prisoners from High Court remain years in prison before his trial start.