prison beauty queen earmarked for release as part of presidential clemency

The winner of Sierra Leone’s first-ever prison beauty contest, Sia Kembe, has been granted a presidential pardon, 20 months into her term.
Twenty-year-old Sia Kembe was among over 500 prisoners earmarked for release as part of a presidential clemency to mark the new year, according to an official.

The list, released by the Sierra Leone Correctional Service (SLCS) on Wednesday, 1 January 2020, includes the details of the inmate to be released and the centre in which they are serving their sentences. The 507 male inmates and 27 female inmates were drawn from 20 prison and detention facilities across the country.

Officials said the move is a continuation of a tradition that is based on a constitutional provision giving the president the power to forgive prisoners on festive occasions.

Lesely Cole-Showers, a spokesman for the SLCS, said the practice is not to release the names of the inmates, but he confirmed that Kembe was part of those currently being processed for release as part of the clemency.

Kembe was sentenced to five years for manslaughter. She was serving her term in the southern Bo district. She came to the limelight in November 2019, when she participated in the maiden edition of Miss Correctional. She emerged as the winner of the contest, which included nine other inmates drawn from female correctional facilities across the country.

Kembe, who was jailed for the killing of her husband, was 20 months into her term.

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