Authorities In Bor Seek Support To Improve Prison Conditions

Jonglei State remand center at Bor. [Gurtong| File]

State Red Cross Director, David Gai Deer said that the females at the cells lack blankets, mosquito nets and soap while some of them have children at the cells.

He said there are lots of mosquitoes in Bor which can cause malaria and lead to death if not prevented.

“It is our constitutional mandate if the government asks us to assist the venerable people in prison it is also the same way like we achieve to the people in the communities because these people who are in the prison are part of the communities and some of them are coming from homes who doesn’t have support,” he said.

The organisation will support about 240 inmates at Bor main prison and will extend the support to other areas in the future.

“According to the prison authorities they gave us many figures from different counties but we are going to support only inmates from Bor central prison,” said Gai.

“The request came direct from prison through the department of UNMISS correction and also the director of Prison requested us to assist the people in the prison and we responded to their call because we are working as South Sudan Red Cross,” he said. 

Red Cross has helped venerable people this year in some part of the state especially in Lou-Nuer and Pibor counties.

In October, prisoners under the Jonglei State custody called upon the state police officials to improve the health conditions at the detention centre they described as “deadly.”

Sanitation at the facility was in dire condition in the building which houses remand prisoners awaiting trial. The centre lacks ventilation except through the metallic door grills.

Prisoners who requested anonymity for fear of being victimised said that the place has not been cleaned in a long time and they rarely get food. Prisoners used the same cell as toilets at night.

The men confined in overcrowded cells with no beds and so the men have to sleep on mats spread out over the crowded cell floor with the sick prisoners being unable to receive medical attention.

In August, the Human Rights Watch launched an investigative report depicting the harsh, unacceptable prison conditions in which detainees live in South Sudan prisons.

The report documented violations of due process rights, patterns of wrongful deprivation of liberty and serious flaws in the emerging justice system.

The research was carried out in twelve of the country’s 79 prisons during a 10-month period before and after South Sudan’s independence in areas with the largest prison populations.

It revealed that, a third of South Sudan’s prison population of approximately 6,000 has not been convicted of any offense or in some cases even charged with one, but are detained, often for long periods, waiting for police, prosecutors, and judges to process their cases.

The vast majority of detainees have no legal representation, because they cannot afford a lawyer and South Sudan has no functioning legal aid system, adding that Judges pass long sentences and even condemn to death people who, without legal assistance, were unable to understand the nature of charges against them or to call and prepare witnesses in their defence.

South Sudanese authorities welcomed the report pointing out infrastructural challenges, insecurity, budget constraints and other political problems that hinder government’s efforts to prioritise the improvement of the prisons in the country.

Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 250 inmates and a range of justice officials, correctional officers, police, prosecutors, and traditional authorities.

In September, the Director General of National Prisons Service Abel Makoi Wol revealed that the South Sudanese prisons are transforming.

The prisons chief said that there are about 6650 prisoners in the country of which more than 4000 are convicted with 1600 on remand while others are children.

He also noted that the prisons are inadequate and that the inmates have accepted to endure the environment.

Since South Sudan gained independence last year, the government has been trying to improve given that the liberated areas only had containment centers.

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