Current News

Thank You to Everyone who helped make our Fundraising Gala a Success! 

DSC06233edit 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 …

Celebrating Human Rights Day

APP Brings you one of the Heroes of Prisoners Rights in Uganda.

Otim Kizito, Prison Based Human  Rights Advocate, Arocha Prison,  Apac District, Northern Uganda. Click here to read about Kizito's experience.

Otim Kizito, Prison Based Human Rights Advocate, Arocha Prison, Apac District, Northern Uganda. He has enabled 38 prisoners access bail. Read more about Kizito’s experience.

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 ….. 

My ‘new family’ in Death Row, saved me from HIV stigma.

Dennis Poem

Click to read a poem written by Dennis whilst in prison

  • 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…

Weeks 3 and 4 – Navigating UK transport, contentious issues and out of the capital to Nottingham

Fellows pic1Into 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.

MBay torneyNestled 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

Paul hands over wheels

APP Acting Chairperson Board of Trustees Paul Cavadino hands over wheels to the Prisons Officers at Oyam District HQ.

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.

UoL students Kenya webOn 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.

Into the Prisons – Week two of our Kenyan Prison Officers’ trip to the UK

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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…

 

Our 2014 Kenyan Prison Officers have arrived in the UK and they are focused on reform.

Kenyan Secondees Oct 2014

Our Kenyan prison officers and APP’s Lauren (far left).

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

Susan poses with the Principal Judge, Justice Yorakamu Bawmine(left) and the CGP, Dr. Byabashaija.

Susan poses with the Principal Judge, Justice Yorakamu Bawmine(left) and the CGP, Dr. Byabashaija.

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…..

I would read in the toilet at night because lights were turned off as part of prison regulations.

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…..