Children and young people deprived of their freedom see their rights systematically violated. They are treated like criminals when what they need is social support and assistance.
Hundreds of children live in prisons surrounded by adults. The presumption of guilt condemns them to a hell where abuse and unhealthy conditions make them invisible. Many of them die without hope or stop eating to stop suffering loosing their will to live.
The documentary "Libertad", directed by Raúl de la Fuente and promoted by "Misiones Salesianas", the Salesian Mission Office of Madrid, introduces us to the stories of minors like these: spectators will "enter" the hell of Pademba prison in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and will get to know the daily life of some young people imprisoned there.
The documentary's premiere is scheduled for Thursday 16 September via live streaming on the “Misiones Salesianas” YouTube channel. And with the presentation of the documentary, the Salesian Mission Office is also launching the campaign: “Inocencia entre rejas” (Innocence behind bars).
In many countries of Africa, America and Asia, the Salesians accompany these minors and take care of them: they offer them legal and health assistance, food, spiritual accompaniment and education in view of their reintegration into society once released from prison.
Pademba prison, the largest penitentiary in the capital of Sierra Leone, is just one example of the work the Salesians do with minors and young people in other prisons around the world.
Experts around the world speak of the need to find other ways, in lieu of prison, to ensure that children and young people who have committed a crime do not unnecessarily come into contact with the prison system. The United Nations proposes sanctions, counseling sessions, social services, probation, supervisory ordinances etc.,
"The great challenge is to understand that putting an end to the circle of violence we can transform the aggressor's heart and stop them thinking about revenge," says Fr Agnaldo Soares, a Salesian who works with minors in conflict with the law in Brazil.
Transforming young people through education is precisely the proposal of the Salesians in every part of the globe.