Salesian Missionary in Liberia Calls for Release of Young Men Locked up Without Indictment

Map of Liberia with a blue pushpin stuck. Credit: Wead/Shutterstock

A member of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) in Liberia is calling for the release of 63 young men locked up without indictment.

In a Tuesday, November 28 report, Br. Lothar Wagner, who is serving as Chaplain at Monrovia Central Prison says the young men have been deprived of the right to defend themselves in court.

The situation is occurring at what is known as Criminal Court D (1st Judicial Circuit Court of Montserrado County), which has jurisdiction over armed robbery crimes.

“It is difficult to see these young men being robbed of their future,” Br. Wagner said.

He said the young men “are disillusioned, depressed and simply dejected.”


“The families of the prisoners are also at the end. They have lost trust in the rule of law. The vast majority of the inmates in prison are deprived of the right of legal defense,” the SDB member said.

Br. Wagner, his collaborators and a public defender have been working on this issue for months. He explained, “On Jan. 6, 2023, two of my colleagues and I handed over a list of names to the judge of Court D.”

“In May 2023, a lawyer filed a motion for dismissal for 63 inmates who had not been given an opportunity to defend themselves and had already served at least two years in prison,” he added.

He explained, “The lawyer referred to Section 18.1 of the criminal procedure law titled ‘Dismissal for failure to proceed with prosecution.’ To date, no hearing has been scheduled by Court D.”

 “This is more than very frustrating,” Br. Wagner said.

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The November 28 report indicated that Salesian missionaries have been working to support inmates at Monrovia Central Prison. 

“The prison fellowship program takes place two mornings a week and includes group counseling and psychosocial support. Salesians also provide clothing, washing materials, medical help, spiritual support and legal assistance. Every day, Salesians bring the juvenile and sick inmates a warm meal and a drink,” the report further indicated.

From the very first contact with an inmate during their admission to the prison, Salesians work to reduce fear and build trust. 

They focus on the youth’s situation and future planning. 

Salesians also provide education. School lessons take place Monday to Friday between 12-2 p.m. In addition to English and mathematics, life-relevant topics are addressed with a focus on anti-aggression training. Once youth are released, Salesians facilitate access to continued education and vocational training to help with reintegration back into the community.


Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.