My name is Pete Ouko and I am the first Kenyan inmate to graduate with a Diploma in Law from the University of London. It did not come easy though.
I achieved this despite initially being locked up 23 hours a day in a cramped death row cell with only 30 minutes, if at all, allowed outside. I had no tutorial support and there were detractors — I even got my books late. But impediments did not make me lose hope.
My incarceration motivated me to pursue law. Read more …..
“Behind the imposing walls, you learn that transition is not all about what many have stereotyped it to be. You learn to appreciate that transitions are meant to impact lives” Peter Ouko (right), inmate and law student supported by us and one of our TEDx Kamiti Prison Speakers. Kenya Prisons Service, Kamiti Maximum Security Prison was the first time a TEDx event was held in an African prison. A total of ten speakers drawn from both inside and outside the prison walls, including prison staff, inmates and innovators from the technology and education sectors talked on the theme “Loud Silent Voices.” Read more …..
On 22nd January 2015, we launched “The Promotion, Respect and Fulfilment of the Right to Access to Justice in Mubende District” project to improve access to justice in 6 prisons in Mubende district in midcentral Uganda.
The project strategy was to empower prisoners and prison staff to advocate for the promotion, fulfillment, whilst respecting the right to Access to Justice for prisoners from within. In this period, we have learnt that networking and bringing everyone together in the prisons works well and improves accountability, service delivery and decision making. In the past this process resulted in one high court hearing being held after such a visit, but now after Justice Wilson Musene Masalu came he has promised and successfully held 3 such hearings. Read more …..
1st December 2015 is observed as the World Aids Day, a special commemoration of the global effects of the HIV/Aids pandemic. These celebrations begun in 1988 as a way to fight the stigma of the disease and educate people about prevention and treatment. The theme for this year’s celebrations was “Getting to Zero” with an aim to highlight not only the disease but also the global social implications of the disease. We joined female and male inmates at Luzira Upper Prison which provided prisoners affected by the disease, clinicians working in prison, to advocate the need to testing, enrollment for treatment and to live positively with HIV, but also it was an opportunity to raise general awareness. Dr. Joshua, a Snr. Medical Officer at Luzira Upper prison claims the objective of getting to zero cannot be achieved unless we minimize or stop new infections, end discrimination, and attain zero deaths. Read more …..
Our work has been gaining recognition not only in Africa but internationally as well. UN Solutions SummitA group of 14 selected innovators gathered at the United Nations headquarters in New York, including our Agnes Nakirya, Access to Justice senior manager. We were chosen from a pool over 800 applicants received from over 100 countries. The 14 organisations selected were drawn from areas such as technology, engineering and science and who were looking at innovative ways to solve problems such as climate change, poverty, inequality and injustices and sustainable energy. Read more …..
We are very pleased to announce the successful arrival of the 5 Ugandan prison officers deployed to the UK on a 12 week Secondment. The Programme will expose the delegates to the best practices the British judicial and correctional systems have to offer, providing new knowledge and skills that will empower our change agents to carry on the process of positive transformation of the Uganda Prison Service. We wish them the best of luck in their learning journey and look forward to sharing the fruits of their amazing work! They are seen here with our patron Lord Ramsbotham.
Read more …..
Pascal Kakuru, is an inmate at Luzira upper prison pursuing a bachelors’ degree in law under the University of London international program, and is also one of the members of the Human Rights Committee in the prison. The committee was formed in April 2015 and is made up of 12 members who are all convicted inmates, working under the supervision of the prison staff. “As we all know that education is the most powerful weapon one can use to change the world, I knew that if I shared my legal knowledge acquired from the law degree with my fellow inmates then it would help them to solve most of the legal problems.” Pascal Kakuru. Read more …..
In June 2013, the African Prisons Project in partnership with the Independent Development Fund (IDF) launched a project to improve access to justice in 8 prisons in Oyam & Apac Districts in the North of Uganda. With support from the judiciary, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the police, and that the Uganda Prisons Service and prisoners, the first phase of the project achieved tremendous results. This was acknowledged by IDF’s decision to select us for further funding due to our great performance.
The second phase of the “promotion of the rights to access to justice & healthcare for prisoners in Oyam & Apac Districts” was recently launched. With support from the judiciary, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the police, and that of the Uganda Prisons Service and prisoners, the first phase of the project achieved tremendous results. Read more …..
On Wednesday evening, 22nd July 2015, the dignitaries from Embassies, Justice Law and Order Sector, Private, Civil Society sector and Key Government institutions came together at the Sheraton Hotel’s Rwenzori Ballroom to celebrate prisons in Uganda as places of positive transformation.
Jointly hosted by the African Prisons Project, Uganda Prisons Service and the Independent Development Fund/Democratic Governance Facility, the event was attended by 130 participants. In the attendance were the Minister for Gender Labour and Social Affairs Hon. Muruli Mukasa and the Minister of Minerals and Energy Development, Hon. Irene Muloni. The event was opened by Dr. Johnson Byabashaija, Commissioner General, Uganda Prisons Service and also graced by the Honourable Justice Yorokamu Bamwine, Principal Judge of Uganda as the Chief Guest. Read more …..
For 90 inmates at Muinaina and Kaweeri prisons, in Mubende District approximately 200km away from Uganda’s capital Kampala, the wheels of justice have been set in motion at last!
This week, APP joins the Uganda prisons service, the prison administration and inmates at Muinanina and Kaweeri prisons in welcoming the Honourable. Justice Wilson Masalu Musene to Mubende District, where he shall preside over a High Court session.
The session is being held as a result of the prison visit facilitated by APP in March 2015, for 20 officials from the Justice Law and Order Sector. Read more …..
Water is so imperative to the survival of human beings that it has often been said that ‘water is life’. Unfortunately, the current number of people who cannot access safe water stands at 884 million. In attempting to tackle this, the United Nations Millennium Development Goal 7 called to “halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation”. However, the year is 2015 and to say the target is attainable may be an overstatement.
At any one time, close to half of all people in developing countries are suffering from health problems caused by poor water and sanitation. Read more…
Last week, children at Murchison Bay Primary School were celebrating International Children’s Book Day. The primary school is located within the gates of Luzira prison community. In East Africa all prison staff are housed within the grounds of a prison, so at Luzira you will find the Women’s prison, Remand prison, Main prison and Condemned prison, as well as the whole prison staff community. The majority of the children at the school are therefore children of the prison staff. The school caters to over 2000 students, ages between 5 and 14/15 (although the school is a primary school, it is not uncommon for finances and domestic issues to cause students to miss large periods of schooling, therefore a class can contain a good variation of ages). Its resources are limited and the whole community suffers a lot of economic challenges. Read more…
With the appreciation that behavioral change is a gradual process, APP expects to contribute to improved hygiene, reduction in digging of toilets, reduction of disease outbreak, reduction in dumping of fecal matter in prisons grounds and garden fields and increased uptake of hand washing at all critical points.
Tuesday 7th April is World Health Day. This year’s theme is Food Safety, which seeks to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities associated with food safety. Read more…
Seeing is believing ….. Honourable Justice Wilson Masalu Musene commits to hold three High Court sessions in Mubende in 2015 after visiting Muinaina prison.
This week at African Prisons Project, we led a team of 25 officials from the Justice, Law and Order Sector to a visit in Muinaina prison in Mubende District as part of the ‘Promotion, Respect and Fulfillment of the Right to Access to Justice in Mubende District’ Project. As a result of what the team witnessed, The Honourable Justice committed to:
Holding three High Court sessions in 2015 including two main sessions and one special session for those who wish to plead guilty in order to reduce on the case back log.
Prioritising cases of those who have overstayed on remand, beginning with those arrested in 2009 and the elderly, many of whom should be able to leave due to the length of their stay and mitigating factors of health and age. Read more …
As part of its Leadership Development Programme, African Prisons Project provides access to postgraduate level study in the UK for senior prison staff from African prisons. APP has developed an ongoing partnership with the University of Westminster to deliver the programme. Westminster generously supports APP’s selected candidates to gain a masters qualification on a fully funded scholarship. At the end of a busy year being actively engaged in London student life, the masters graduate is empowered to utilise the knowledge gained from intensive study for the benefit of their prison service back home.
Hassan Mukavane Wafula, Senior Superintendent of Prisons from Kenyan, arrived in London at the beginning of January to begin his Masters in Conflict Prevention and Dispute Resolution. Hassan has 27 years of professional experience in working in Kenyan prisons. He also spent 6 months working in a Post-Conflict setting in Somalia’s autonomous state of Punt-land. His role involved developing and implementing corrections service legislation and regulations, as well as providing technical assistance for development of prison systems. Read more ….
Uganda joined the rest of the world on 7th February 2015 to acknowledge the contribution of National Libraries all over the world.
With just 32 Public Libraries and 16 community libraries in a country with a population close to 35 million people; it has been a commendable contribution therefore, and a privilege for APP to serve towards cultivating a reading culture in Uganda through our Library projects within the prisons – under our Education programmes.
The APP Library section continues to operate towards causing and reigniting a spark in inmates’ love of books and reading, accelerating literacy and learning while connecting prisoners and prison staff with the different kinds of information materials needed. These libraries also provide a home for social relationships and inclusiveness, and a safe place for any member of the prison community to gain help and essential access to information. Read more ….
‘If you want to walk fast, walk alone; but if you want to walk far, walk together’ – APP walks with Justice, Law and Order Sector actors in Uganda.
Proverbs and story-telling play an important part in enabling African Prisons Project (APP) share its work. The above African proverb has been quoted numerous times to demonstrate the power that comes with working with others towards achieving something greater for groups of persons, than sole individuals. To us, it emphasises the power of relationships, and what it takes to change African prisons for the better.
APP acknowledges that achieving its mission requires close collaboration and partnerships with a wide range of strategic partners within government and civil society. In this spirit, the African Prisons Project on 22nd January 2015, held an inception/kick off meeting of ‘The Promotion, Respect and Fulfilment of the Right to Access to Justice in Mubende District’ Project. Read more …
On Wednesday 10th December, we held our annual Christmas Fundraising Gala, sponsored by the Rumi Foundation and the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple. We aimed to raise funds towards our vital work providing the tools to create change and to restore dignity and hope to those incarcerated in Africa, all the while celebrating International Human Rights Day.
We hold events like the Gala for a number of reasons. It is a chance to get supporters and friends of our work all together in one place. Throughout the night conversations could be heard at every table with people who had only just met, planning how they could work together in the future to support our work. It is also an opportunity to nurture new relationships. A number of people in attendance knew little, if anything, of the work we do at APP, and so it is an opportunity to communicate with them why our work is so vital. Finally, it is an opportunity to raise funds towards our projects. We often do not highlight the matter on our website and other social platforms. We are keen to focus on the projects, the triumphs and the people, as these are what APP is all about. However, our work could not happen without financial support from the people who believe in what we do. Read more …
Today, 10th December, APP joins the rest of the world in commemorating Human Rights Day under the theme ‘Human Rights 365’. The theme encompasses the idea that every day is a Human Rights Day. It celebrates the fundamental proposition in the Universal Declaration that each one of us, everywhere, at all times is entitled to the full range of human rights, that human rights belong equally to each of us and bind us together as a global community with the same ideals and values.
As we celebrate the Human Rights Day 2014, we feature below the rights to Health and Access to Justice Project and show case some of the heroes of human rights in prisons in Africa. We start with the stories of three different men who make Human Rights a reality for many men and women in prisons in Oyam and Apac Districts. Oyam and Apac Districts are newer districts curved out of larger former Northern district in the dockets of the Lango sub region region. Nestled above the river Nile in the thickets of the Ugandan Northern Country side, these two districts being new have fewer courts, health centres and more challenges as one would expect of a new district. It is with this backdrop that the African Prisons Project working with the Independent Development Fund launched an access to justice and health project to support prisons uphold their mandate for a human rights approach to correctional services.
APP works with Prisons Officers and prisoners trained as Prison Based Human Rights Advocates and Prison Peer Educators respectively. We believe that prison staff and prisoners themselves have a significant role to play in prison reform, in both allowing prisoners to access human rights and in being advocates for them. Read more …..
- Dennis has been on death row for 9 years and is a father of two.
- Dennis lost his mother due to high blood pressure the day he was convicted to death.
- Dennis has been part of the APP family for the last 9 years. Dennis and a number of his peers living with HIV are beneficiaries of APPs HIV nutritional support programme.
Yesterday, 1st December was World Aids Day. Charlize Theron, Hollywood Actress has spoken out alongside the head of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibe on the stigma issue, stating that one of the biggest problems with regard to the spread of HIV/AIDs is the stigma that is attached to it. As part of this International Awareness Day, African Prisons Project’s Peter Tibigambwa spoke to Dennis, a death row inmate, and president of the ‘Post Test Club’ supported by APP in Kampala Uganda, to find out what he thinks about the stigma attached to HIV/AIDs and what it is to be living with the disease in prison.
‘I am a prisoner at Luzira Upper Prison Condemn Section, living on Death Row. We use the terms ‘poor sexual behaviour’, ‘marginalization’ and ‘stigma’, but often I wonder how many of the prisoners and the people outside of prison, truly understand these words?’
Currently at Luzira Upper prison (Boma and Condemn sections) we total over 400 inmates out of a population of 3500 living with HIV/AIDs. I am a trained counsellor and chairperson of the Post-Test Club in the prison. The Post-Test Club is a group of individuals who have tested positive for HIV and have come together to support each other in this prison complex and receive nutritional support from African Prisons Project, so as to allow our anti-viral drugs to work. Only 10% of the inmates living with HIV are part of this group. I believe that the stigma and lack of proper information on the disease is one of the reasons for this. Read more…
Our Kenyan APP Ambassadors for Penal Reform have gone home to East Africa, and taken enthusiasm for the facilitation of change… and our hearts with them!
After a protracted weekend of celebrations, the African Prisons Project team said their reluctant farewells to our prized ambassadors for penal reform. Antony, Dennis, Beverline and Jacob were ready to challenge themselves, always open to new experiences and keen to absorb any learning that would equip them with the tools they need to stand at the frontline in the fight to improve the prison system in Kenya. In the last week of prison tours the fellows started off by visiting HM Prison Send to look at the management of female prisoners. A meeting with David Charity, the prison’s governor, gave the fellows a real insight into the challenges of working with vulnerable women prisoners, and the difference between managing male and female offenders. The atmosphere was much more relaxed than that of other prisons they had visited; small ponds set in oriental gardens were dotted around the residential facilities, greenhouses and farm land are kept for the women’s horticulture and farming programmes, and there is even an apiary producing delicious tasting honey – which the prison officer leading the tour highly recommended! Read more…
Into the third week of their secondment programme, the Kenyan Professional Fellows had become masters of England’s transport systems. With an intensely busy schedule, a different prison to visit every day and social events to get to in the evenings with generous friends of APP, the greatest challenge has been getting to the right place at the right time.
The term ‘African Time’ had long since been a running joke between APP staff and secondees. What had once been a nightmarish venture onto the dreaded tube became a perfectly ordinary daily commute as most Londoners experience it… although their destinations were perhaps not so ordinary. Read more…
APP Promotes Mental and Physical Health of Prisoners at Murchison Bay Prison through Sports.
Nestled in one of the lush green outskirts of Kampala overlooking one of Kampala’s inland ports lies Murchison Bay Prison; a home to over 1000 male inmates. On an ordinary day, prisoners will be seen carrying out their assigned tasks in an orderly manner and going about their daily business with purpose and determination. However, 9th October 2014, was no ordinary day. It is Uganda’s Day of Independence. Although this day has a lot of national significance, it will be remembered in a special way, by the inmates in this prison; because the 2014 Independence Cup celebrations were held in the premises.
Throughout the day; loud noises and claps could be heard as inmates and guests participated in a number of activities. The modest sports facilities would not dull the enthusiasm of the inmates as they boisterously participated in football matches, between four determined teams; athletics, sack races, ball juggling interlaced with entertainment from an inspirational musical group. Read more …..
The Wheels of Justice… and Healthcare
Odong (not real name) was an inmate at Oyam Main Prison in Oyam district. An unfortunate attack by a crocodile had led to the amputation of both legs. Odong for one reason or another found himself in conflict with the law and had wound up in prison.
Prisons in Uganda are faced with challenges in transport and Oyam prison is no exception. The prison did not have any form of transport to enable Odong get to court from the prison where he was on remand. This responsibility fell on the backs on his peers. Literally, each time Odong had to make an appearance in court, one of his peers would carry him to the court: On their back. Odong is not alone. His plight is not only shared by other prisoners with disabilities like him, but also by inmates who fall ill and need medical care in health centres outside of prison. The prison authorities particularly in those prisons out of Kampala grapple with the challenge of transporting such inmates to health centres and courts; etc.
The Government and the prison authorities are much aware of the difficulties highlighted above and have through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) strategy shown an equal measure of progressiveness in extending the hand of cooperation to civil society to try and help fill gaps in service delivery. Read more …..
APP University of London Law Scholars in the News.
On Tuesday 7th October, the Australian National TV channel, ABC TV, (Australian’s version of the BBC) screened a half hour programme ‘inside story’ on Kamiti Prison in Kenya, and the work of the prisoners there serving as paralegals and taking on the Kenyan justice system to overcome wrongful convictions. Inmates self-representing have resulted in an estimated 3500 successful self-defences in the past 10 years. Wilson Harling Kinyua, a prisoner and APP University of London University law degree scholar took centre stage during the programme. Wilson is one of several APP supported students to make international news. Peter Ouku was featured on the BBC in the recent past and also runs a clinic to support other inmates. Peter Ouku is pursuing an LLb with the University of London. Watch video …..
APP also recently celebrated the inaugural first diploma graduands from Uganda and Kenya. APP continues to support smart and driven students as they pursue diplomas and degrees in law. We believe that prisoners, when paired with skills and education, can have a direct and lasting impact on their own lives and those around them. The ability of our students to act as paralegals in nations where lawyers are rarely available to the poor is just one example of APP’s successful leadership programme.
After a busy weekend visiting London’s attractions and spending an afternoon at the British Museum with APP supporter, Sandra Worthington, APP’s secondees from the Kenya Prison Service entered into the action of the second week with gusto. The week was kick started by meetings with Peter Melleney and the Prison and Probation Ombudsman. Conversations with Kate Eves, Assistant Ombudsman, Fatal Incidents, and Michael Dunkley, Serious Complaints Investigations, at the Prison and Probation Ombudsman’s offices allowed the secondees to reflect upon Kenya’s recently established Commission on Administrative Justice (CAJ), also known as the Office of the Ombudsman. Later on, Peter Melleney, barrister at Charter Chambers practising predominantly in regulatory, criminal and public law, gave the fellows an expert’s insight into his field, and built on the knowledge already garnered in their first week. We were glad to hear that, following the meeting, Peter went on to write a blog piece for his chambers about APP’s programme! Read more…
Last week, Beverline Lungatso, Antony Asige Mugomati, Dennis Kipruto Mungo and Jacob Mbogo Gachuhi arrived in the UK on a long eight hour flight from Nairobi, Kenya. They are four prison officers working in the Kenyan Prison Service, selected by APP to come to the UK for six weeks and complete a Professional Fellowship award funded by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission. APP identified these passionate individuals as committed to working for penal reform and making improvements to the criminal justice system, once they complete the award and return home. The programme we have put together will contribute towards APP’s larger Leadership Development work, which aims to develop the skills and capacity of senior prison staff so that they can facilitate change in their local situations.
Having landed at Heathrow at 6 in the morning on Sunday, they quickly found their feet and jumped head first into the programme. Apart from navigating through London’s notoriously challenging tube system, the first week was spent orienting themselves in Legal London, and meeting with legal and prisons professionals. This included a visit to the Old Bailey and shadowing barristers in court. Read more…..
Three inmates at Uganda’s maximum security prison and one former inmate presented with Diploma in Common Law at Uganda’s Maximum Security Prison.
The three inmates are the first ever inmates to receive qualifications in law in Ugandan prisons
On Tuesday 19th August, three inmates at Uganda’s maximum security prison and one former inmate under the APP Scholarship Programme were presented with their Diploma in the Common Law by the University of London. This was during a convocation ceremony, the first of its kind in Ugandan prisons, held at Luzira Maximum security prison in Kampala. The three inmates are the first ever inmates to receive qualifications in law in Ugandan prisons.
The ceremony was attended by the Principal Judge, Justice Yorakamu Bamwine as the chief guest and the Commissioner General of the Uganda Prisons Service, Dr. Johnson Byabashaija who was also accompanied by other dignitaries from the Uganda Prisons Service. They joined the African Prisons Project and the University of London in celebrating this milestone with the students and their families. Read more…..
William, with the support of APP, is pursuing a Degree in Law, under the University of London Long Distance Programme. He started during his incarceration in prison. He was released from prison after he successfully appealed the military court decision which had wrongly convicted him. He hopes to become a legal advisor or prosecutor.
In 2007, William* was arrested under Uganda’s Military Law and sentenced to five years in prison. When this happened, William believed that his life was over. “This is the end of the world now. I thought this is the end of me.” Instead, his experience in prison has transformed his life for the better. Read more…..