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  • Inside Kenya's 'worst' prison
    As a new government considers sweeping reforms to Kenya's much criticised justice system, BBC News Online's Gray Phombeah is allowed several hours within the walls of one of the country's most notorious jails.

    Nairobi Prison is a maze of chain-link fences, razor wire and guard towers in the city's busy industrial area.

    There are 12 inmates here in this cell meant for only three people
    Prison official David Mwania
    Inside, the first roll-call, to ensure all inmates are accounted for, is under way.

    In quick succession, iron doors open to reveal hundreds of half naked bodies, pressed together on the concrete floor of their cells.

    Their cages are filled with the fetid smell of sweat, dirt and human waste.

    Evidence that the prison is being choked with inmates, some on short sentences and others waiting to appear in court, is not exactly hard to find.

    Here more than 3,000 inmates - 3,800 on today's count - share a prison designed for only 800 prisoners. The daily budget: $0.30 per prisoner.

    "This is the worst congested prison in the country," says David Mwania, who is in charge of Nairobi Prison, built in 1911.

    In the capital wing, housing more than 400 inmates facing the capital punishment, dozens of inmates are herded into tiny cells with the capacity for between one and five prisoners.

    Prison cell in another Kenyan jail
    Kenyan prisons are notoriously overcrowded
    "There are 12 inmates here in this cell meant for only three people," Mr Mwania says, pointing to an old, stinking cell.

    "There are only two mattresses and no blankets."

    One of the inmates is 30-year-old John Njoroge Njagi, who has been here for four years, facing a charge of robbery with violence, a capital offence.

    "I haven't put on my clothes because we've been sweating throughout the night," he says.

    "Four years on, my case is still pending in court and I am still here."

    0700

    It is breakfast time - a mixture of boiled water and maize flour with no sugar is served in the open air grounds of the prison.

    Thousands of inmates in tattered prison uniforms, and some in civilian clothes, emerge from their cells.

    I don't think any human being can survive here.
    Nigerian prisoner Colin Alexander
    This is the frontline of the prison overcrowding crisis in Kenya. You can sense the tension here.

    "As you can see, some of them have no prison uniform - this is another problem here, " says David Mwania.

    "We don't have enough uniform for all prisoners."

    In one prison ward, 250 squatting inmates serving short sentences, are crammed into one room meant for only 50 prisoners sharing only five mattresses.

    The prison is also home for nationals of other countries. Colin Alexander from Nigeria has been here for eight months, surviving on half-cooked ugali, Kenyans' staple food, awaiting trial:

    "This is the worst prison I have ever seen. Everything about this place is bad, including the treatment from the wardens.

    "We are surviving by the grace of God - I don't think any human being can survive here."

    And men of God are also doing time here - people like Bishop Makhokha of a home-grown church, who claims he was arrested during the December election campaign after his congregation stoned former President Daniel arap Moi's motorcade in Kakamega, western Kenya.

    "I spend my time here preaching and spreading the word of God," he says.

    But not many have found consolation in religion.

    Fifty-two-year-old Thuo Thiong'o - popularly known as TT - has been here for four years facing a charge of murder. He says sodomy, a criminal offence in Kenya, is common in the prison:

    prisoners
    Many are waiting for a trial date
    "Because of congestion, people here sleep pressed body to body and this body contact leads to these kind of tendencies."

    But the Nairobi jail, like many other facets of Kenyan life, is also catching the wave of freedom after the collapse of former President Moi's 24-year rule.

    Thiong'o and his fellow inmates are now demanding change.

    "You can't solve any problem here without dealing with congestion. Also we want provision for basic necessities - blankets, for example, mattresses, good food, and we want a prisoner-friendly system and law, and less delays in processing our cases in court," Thiong'o says.

    "We are not here thinking about sex. But if other countries can make provision for an inmate to meet his wife while in jail - Why not us? We would also like that."

    1300

    It is lunchtime and the prison staff conduct the second roll call of the day.

    The smell of ugali and boiled vegetables mingling with the overpowering stench of raw sewage is everywhere.

    Until now, little was known about what went on inside prison walls in Kenya.

    new arrivals
    There is no room for the new arrivals
    For many years, concerns have been raised over the inhuman conditions in Kenyan jails and claims of torture, brutality and congestion have been frequent.

    Since coming to power two months ago, the new Narc government, which overthrew Kanu after four decades in power, has promised to review the prison system and improve the living conditions of more than 50,000 prisoners in the country.

    But for now, the brutality and negligence which have been so present at Nairobi Prison is the hallmark of jails throughout Kenya.

    Mr Mwania, who has been in the prison service for 20 years, sums up the frustrations shared by the prison staff and prisoners:

    "The story is the same everywhere in our jails. Congestion because of delays in court cases, leading to more and more congestion. Lack of funds to provide for basic essentials for inmates. Simply, the system cannot cope anymore."

    The Forgotten of Africa, Wasting Away in Jails Without Trial

    LILONGWE, Malawi - Since Nov. 10, 1999, Lackson Sikayenera has been incarcerated in Maula Prison, a dozen iron-roofed barracks set on yellow dirt and hemmed by barbed wire just outside Malawi’s capital city.

    At Muala Prison in Malawi, the prisoners sleep on the floor, so tightly packed they cannot turn except en masse. Some cells hold 160 prisoners.

    Prisoners take in the sun after being let out of their cells in the morning.

    He eats one meal of porridge daily. He spends 14 hours each day in a cell with 160 other men, packed on the concrete floor, unable even to move. The water is dirty; the toilets foul. Disease is rife.

    But the worst part may be that in the case of Mr. Sikayenera, who is accused of killing his brother, the charges against him have not yet even reached a court. Almost certainly, they never will. For sometime after November 1999, justice officials lost his case file. His guards know where he is. But for all Malawi’s courts know, he does not exist.

    "Why is it that my file is missing?" he asked, his voice a mix of rage and desperation. "Who took my file? Why do I suffer like this? Should I keep on staying in prison just because my file is not found? For how long should I stay in prison? For how long?"

    This is life in Malawi’s high-security prisons, Dickens in the tropics, places of cruel, but hardly unusual punishment. Prosecutors, judges, even prison wardens agree that conditions are unbearable, confinements intolerably long, justice scandalously uneven.

    But by African standards, Malawi is not the worst place to do time. For many of Africa’s one million prison inmates, conditions are equally unspeakable - or more so.

  • Click here for full story

  • Report on Prisons in Africa

    The following is information from a report by the special rapporteur on prisons and conditions of detention, an adjunct to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

    Burundi

    A new code of penal procedure went into effect in January 2000 that for the first time guaranteed the accused access to legal counsel before trial. It also strengthened restrictions on preventive detention and provided greater protection against physical abuse of detainees. Even as authorities introduced the new law, they recognized that implementing it required more resources than they had. In fact, the reforms were not widely implemented during the year, but judicial authorities did liberate some two hundred detainees against whom there was little proof or who had been detained for long periods of time.

    Some 9,000 remained in jail in 2000, the majority of them Hutu. Most were accused of crimes related to the 1993 massacres and had not yet been tried. Conditions of detention remained miserable due to overcrowding, poor nutrition, and lack of medical services. The International Committee of the Red Cross, absent from Burundi for several years after the killing of three of its delegates, returned in 1999 and immediately brought improvements in jail conditions.

    The following link provides further information on prisons in Burundi:

    Cameroon

    In its 1994 comments on the Cameroon government's second periodic report on implemention of human rights standards, the U.N. Human Rights Committee deplored the "brutality" practiced in prisons, urging authorities to adopt, "as a matter of urgency," measures to improve conditions of confinement.

    Ethiopia

    The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported that since the beginning of 1997 its delegates have been able to conduct visits to an increasing number of detention centers and prisons, to assess detention conditions, and to extend limited assistance to detainees. The ICRC also publicly reported that representations it made to authorities on detention conditions had in various cases led to improvements. For 1996, the ICRC reported that it had visited 6,117 persons held in 129 places of detention in connection with the change of regime in 1991, or for reasons linked to national security, and had registered 3,537 new detainees.

    Kabwe

      Maximum Security Prison
      PO Box 80915,
      Kabwe, Zambia,
      Central Africa

    Kenya

    Kenyan prisoners continued to face serious abuses in 2000. The impunity of state agents was highlighted in August with the brutal clubbing to death by prison warders of six prisoners who were apprehended as they attempted to escape. The public outcry forced the government to announce that it would carry out an investigation into "dereliction of duty" by the prison authorities.

    The following links provide information on prisons in Kenya:


    Malawi

    The following link provides information on prisons in Malawi:

    Mali

    The African Commission's Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Conditions of Detention inspected several Malian prisons in August 1997. In his report on the visits, he described a number of serious problems. At the Bamako Central Prison, he found unsentenced detainees who had been held on remand for more than five years. He also witnessed a guard beating an inmate. At the Tombouctou Prison, he saw an inmate in leg irons and learned that inmates were unable to see visitors. The worst abuses, however, were at the Mopti Prison, where the special rapporteur found inmates with marks of beatings by guards, a juvenile inmate in leg irons, dark cells, and a woman inmate who had been impregnated by a guard. He was also informed that a Liberian prisoner had died of starvation there.

    Mozambique

    Prison conditions continued to be appalling in 2000. Despite publicity and debate on this issue, prisons such as the provincial facility in Nampula remained badly overcrowded. The Nampula civil provincial prison was built to house seventy-five prisoners, but in late 2000 held 482, over half of them on remand awaiting trial. This prison lacked running water,food, or blankets, and the prisoners relied upon relatives to maintain them. Overcrowding was due to a lack of resources and space but also due to an overburdened criminal justice system.

    At the end of 1997, the prison population of Mozambique was approximately 11,000, some 5,000 of whom were in facilities operated by the Ministry of Interior, while the remainder were under the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice.

    The African Commission's Special Reporteur on Prisons visited Mozambique in December 1997, inspecting seven prisons and three police stations. He found severe problems of overcrowding, with Maputo Central Prison, for example, holding 2,059 inmates in space for 800, and Beira Central Prison holding 626 inmates in space for 150. Not all prisons were packed beyond their capacity, however; Machava Prison, in Maputo, held 422 inmates in space for 600.

    He described conditions at Beira Central Prison, which were particularly poor:

      All the cells [on the first floor] were extremely overcrowded. In none was there sleeping space for all of them. "Terrible" sums up the condition in the cells: it is unimaginable how all the inmates could fit into the cells . . . [T]he overcrowding was so acute that the inmates did not have sufficient space even to sit down comfortably . . . [Two inmates in a transit cell] cleaned the toilet with their bare hands.

    The director of the prison told the Special Rapporteur that a new prison should be ready in mid-1998.

    Namibia

    Nigeria

    The government continued a program of prison decongestion in 2000, but prison conditions remained life-threatening. In January 2000, the government announced that all prisoners awaiting execution for twenty years or more would be granted pardons, and that those awaiting execution between ten and twenty years would have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment. Minister of State for Internal Affairs Alhaji Danjuma Goje stated in July 2000 that pretrial detainees represented over 70 percent of the prison population, and that 32,000 were currently incarcerated awaiting trial.

    The following are links to more information:

      Nigeria Prison Service
      P.M.B 1011,
      Benin Sapele Road,
      Benin City,
      Edo State,
      Nigeria

    Rwanda

    More than 125,000 detainees still languished in prison in 2000. Conditions in prisons were miserable and in some cases inhumane and life-threatening. The food supply was irregular in some central prisons and the government called upon families to bring food to detainees, a practice previously usual only for communal lockups. Delivering food to detainees imposed a substantial burden on households where there was only one adult, particularly where the prison was distant.

    In August 1997, soldiers reportedly executed some 150 detainees at the communal jails in Kanama and Rubavu in northwestern Rwanda. In the southern prefecture of Butare, two soldiers killed eleven detainees in Muyira commune in January and an RPA guard killed another eleven at Maraba commune in May 1997. A prison guard in the commune of Rutongo killed eight detainees in early August.

    Sierra Leone

    Prisons are often overcrowded, unsanitary, and lacking in health care and the regular provision of food. As of late 2000, the government had yet to authorize the International Committee for the Red Cross to work within jails and detention facilities.

    South Africa

    Overcrowding in prisons continued to worsen in 2000: on April 30, the prison population was 172,271 (of whom 63,964 were awaiting trial), against approved accommodation for 100,384 inmates. More than five thousand of the prisoners awaiting trial had been held in prison for more than a year. At an estimated 416 inmates per 100,000 citizens, South Africa had one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. In September, the government announced that about 11,000 prisoners awaiting trial on lesser offenses would be released.

    Assaults on prisoners by warders and other prisoners remained serious problems, including widespread prisoner-on-prisoner rape. In March 2000, the minister of correctional services signed a contract with a private company, the Ikwezi Consortium, to design, build, and operate a maximum security prison in Bloemfontein, the first such contract in South Africa. In April, President Mbeki appointed Judge Johannes Fagan to head the judicial inspectorate. In April, the director-general of the Public Service Commission told parliament in a management audit report that the government had lost control over the department, detailing incidents of corruption, intimidation, organized crime, sexual harassment, and rape.

    Hundreds of children were held in prison in 2000, despite a formal government commitment that detention should be a last resort for juveniles: on May 31, 2000, there were 4,253 children in prison, of whom 2,519 were unsentenced and 1,734 sentenced.

    Conditions of overcrowding for children were particularly severe at Pollsmoor prison in Cape Town, where 300 children aged fourteen to seventeen were held awaiting trial in March. An interdepartmental task team was appointed to address this issue, but the number was only reduced to 208 by September. The Cape High Court ruled in July that the children should be immediately examined by a doctor and given medical and psychological care. The government stated that there was insufficient alternative accommodation to hold the children, many of them charged with serious offenses.

    The following are links to information relating to prisons in South Africa:


    Uganda

    There are two categories of prisons in Uganda: central government prisons and local administration prisons. The former group of prisons, which held a total of some 13,000 inmates in 1997, are under the authority of the Commissioner of Prisons, part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The latter group of prisons are independently run by local government authorities.

    In 1997, the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) inspected 24 central government prisons and 12 local government prisons, finding terrible conditions in both categories of facilities. Its annual report explained:

      Most of the prisons the UHRC visited were overcrowded . . . . There were more remand prisoners than convicts. Out of a total population of 13,000 prisoners in the central government prisons, about 8,000 were persons on remand or awaiting trial . . . . Due to overcrowding, prison facilities such as toilets and bathrooms were overused, and sanitation was poor. Flush toilets had broken down and were replaced with buckets, particularly at night. Toilets were filthy, and most wards smelled badly. Wards were generally unclean. Inmates complained of lice, bedbugs and fleas . . . . No prison visited had proper bedding. Prisoners slept on bare cement floor without blankets . . . . In most prisons, including Gulu, Ndorwa, Loro, Arua and Rwimi, the UHRC found many emaciated and sickly prisoners. With the exception of Luzira, prisons did not make clean drinking water available to prisoners . . . . In Kakiika Central Government Prison, Mbarara, the UHRC found a nurse using one hypodermic needle to inject all sick prisoners, a practice which spreads HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other dangerous infections . . . . Poor prison conditions have led to deaths of prisoners from malnutrition, dehydration, dysentary and pneumonia. Arua Prison reported 57 deaths in 1997, the highest number for any prison in the country . . . . Prison regulations prohibit beating of prisoners but inmates reported beating by warders. Evidence of beatings could be seen on some prisoners' bodies.
  • Uganda Prison Information

    Zambia

    In its 1996 comments on Zambia's report on the implementation of human rights standards, the U.N. Human Rights Committee expressed great concern over the country's detention conditions, and particularly the lack of implementation of the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

      Lusaka Central Prison
      PO Box 30133,
      Lusaka,
      Zambia

  • PRISONERS IN AFRICAN PRISONS
    Dr. Aggrey Kiyingi Prison: Luzira Prison [Uganda]
    Nationality: Australian
    Age: 51 years [at 2006]
    Charge: Murder
    Sentence: Pending
    Case: AN Australian cardiologist charged with murdering his wife has had a date set for his trial in Uganda. The Ugandan High Court today said Dr Aggrey Kiyingi's trial would start on June 16. Mr Kiyingi is accused, along with two other people, of murdering his wife Robinah Kiyingi, 54, a prominent Ugandan lawyer, at her home in the outskirts of the capital on July 11, 2005. High Court assistant registrar John Waswa today told journalists the case would be heard by High Court Judge Okuma Wengi. He said the case was to have been heard in March, but the judge postponed it because there was not enough time in the court session to hear all the witnesses. The 51-year-old doctor is being held in custody at Luzira prison.
    Click Here for More information

    Dr. Aggrey Kiyingi Prison: Luzira Prison [Uganda]
    Nationality: Australian
    Age: 51 years [at 2006]
    Charge: Murder
    Sentence: Pending
    Case: AN Australian cardiologist charged with murdering his wife has had a date set for his trial in Uganda. The Ugandan High Court today said Dr Aggrey Kiyingi's trial would start on June 16. Mr Kiyingi is accused, along with two other people, of murdering his wife Robinah Kiyingi, 54, a prominent Ugandan lawyer, at her home in the outskirts of the capital on July 11, 2005. High Court assistant registrar John Waswa today told journalists the case would be heard by High Court Judge Okuma Wengi. He said the case was to have been heard in March, but the judge postponed it because there was not enough time in the court session to hear all the witnesses. The 51-year-old doctor is being held in custody at Luzira prison.
    Click Here for More information

    SAILOTA BANDA Maximum Security Prison - PO Box 80915, Kabwe, Zambia, Central Africa
    Sailota is 19 years old and a Christian incarcerated in Zambia. Sailota grew up in a Catholic Orphanage and sadly fell into bad company at the age of 13. He has nobody, and needs someone to provide some encouragement, guidance and friendship. Please write to Sailota and show your support.

    ROBBY MAPONYA Maximum Security Prison - PO Boc 80915, Kabwe, Zambia, Central Africa
    Robby is 34 years old and married with children. Robby feels that he has been abandoned by society and needs encouragement and friendship. He would like support to break out of his isolation. Please write to Robby.

    AUSTIN MIYANDA Maximum Security Prison - Condemned Section, PO Box 80915, Kabwe, Zambia, Central Africa
    Austin is just 19 years old and on death row. He is desperately in need of support and friendship. Please take time to write to Austin.

    ANTHONY EMEKA Nigeria Prison Service - P.M.B 1011, Benin Sapele Road, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria
    Anthony has a life sentence and has simply asked for friends. Please write to Anthony.

    PATRICK NGANGA Maximum Security Prison - PO Box 80915, Kabwe, Zambia, Central Africa
    Patrick is 30 years old and a Christian. He is currently on death row but seeking an appeal. He was sentenced to death in 1996. He wants to have a Christian Pen Pal from any part of the world. He enjoys going to church and chess. He needs support and encouragment. Please show your support for Patrick.

    GEOFFREY JORDON MACHAY Maximum Security Prison - Condemned Section, PO Box 80915, Kabwe, Zambia, Central Africa
    Geoffrey is married with 4 children, he was on death row and it has been reported that his his sentence may have been reduced. Please show support for Geoffrey.

    EDWARD SAMY Maximum Security Prison - Condemned Section, PO Box 80915, Kabwe,Zambia, Central Africa
    Edward has asked for any help you can provide. Please write to Edward and show your support.

    ELIAS CHILEKATI Lusaka Central Prison - PO Box 30133, Lusaka, Zambia
    Elias is 35 years old and due to be released in 2009, he is a Christian and would like people to write to him.

    IKIGTA ALPHA Room 9B, Block B - EL Qanatar Men’s Prison, 13621 El Qalyoubia, Egypt
    Ikigta wants somebody to write to him, please take the time to do this.

    JOSEPH CHIMBALA Maximum Security Prison - PO Box 80915, Kabwe, Zambia
    Joseph is on death row, he needs support and friendship. Please support Joseph.

    KINGSLEY SHABALILA Maximum Security Prison/Condemn Section - PO Box 80915, Kabwe, Zambia, Central Africa
    Please write to Kingsley and show your support.

    BERNARD MITCHELL 98525714, C Section
    Drakenstien Max prison - Private Bag X6005, Suider Paarl, 7624, South Africa
    Bernard is serving a life sentence, please write to Bernard and show your support.

    Craig Alexander Pinnick Still being held in Accra, Ghana awaiting trial

    Craig Alexander Pinnick
    Craig Alexander Pinnick, a British national who escaped during the arrest of six persons in the 588.33-kilogramme drug case, was on Friday brought to the Fast Track High Court in Accra. Pinnick pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, importation of narcotic drugs without licence and possessing narcotic drugs without lawful authority.

    The Court remanded him into Police custody to reappear on April 11.

    On October 27, last year (2004), an Accra High Court handed down 20-year jail term to each of six persons involved in the case after finding them guilty.

    Click Here to read case information on Craig - Additional News Stories
    Other prisoners' stories.
    Nana Kwasi Agyeman
    also known as Gemann
    - 46 as at 01/2006
    A musician who is on death row at the Nsawam Medium Security Prison. Gemann murdered Kwesi Adjei, a 35-year-old driver, on January 9, 1995 at Dome near Accra, for which he was sentenced to death. After the sentence, he appealed against the conviction but the Court of Appeal threw it out. In December 1998, he filed another appeal at the Supreme Court seeking mitigation of his sentence. Read More Here
    Mohammed Ibrahim Kamil. [Ghana]
    News Links & Resources
  • The South African Prisoners' Organisation For Human Rights
  • Directory of Prisons [AFRICA] [excellent source PDF File]
  • A.R.M Prison Outreach International [Ghana]
  • The Lutheran Media Ministry in Ghana
  • Nightmare of Neglect and Death at Kamiti Prison
  • The Forgotten of Africa, Wasting Away in Jails Without Trial
  • Rotary International
  • Europeans face stiff penalties in Ghana drugs case
  • Court gives judgement in cocaine case on Wednesday
  • Court Orders Prisons to Allow Lawyers Access To Cocaine Suspects
  • Briton held in Ghana over $145 million cocaine haul
  • Britons To Serve Jail Term In Britain?
  • Security Officer to testify in cocaine case
  • Six Europeans and a Ghanian Jailed 20 years for drug smuggling
  • Cocaine case: GSB give evidence in camera
  • Police grab suspected principal architect
  • Defence closes case in cocaine trial
  • Britons jailed for cocaine haul
  • Drug-smuggling Europeans jailed for 20 yrs each
  • FREEDOM IS A RIGHT OF ALL HUMAN BEINGS IN A WORLD WHERE LIFE IS VALUED AND PEACE MAY FINALLY BE A POSSABILITY
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