Unity State Caretaker Governor Vows To Improve Prison Conditions

This article was last updated on May 25, 2022

Speaking during his visits to the Prison Department yesterday, the Caretaker Governor, Dr. Joseph Monytuil Wajang said he will work to improve the current situation in the prisons.

“I came here to witness your situation as I have seen it, very soon your medicines will be available and no one will suffer from the lack of treatment in the prison,” he said.

Wajang stressed that provision of clean drinking water and the urgent construction of detention cells are the top priorities.

He said his government will also direct the relevant legal administration and the Judiciary to settle all the cases for those who have been jailed for a long period of time without referring them to court.

He also warned the prisoners who are trying to run away because of their long detention to remain patient and that those who have paid blood compensation and are still under custody should wait for their fair justice.

The Director of Prison Col. William Riek Riak said they have 138 people in the prison cells with different cases.

He said the situation in the prison is very bad since the inmates are living in uncomfortable cells which are difficult for the inmates to stay in during the day time because of the heat.

The visit of the Caretaker Governor also marks the release of one of the recent inmates, Chief Isaac Magok Gatluak, who are the head of special main court that was formed to settle disputes between Koch, Mayom, Guit and Rubkona and detained over suspected involvement and failing to settle to disputes.

The Council of Ministers in May approved US $270,000 to be used in improving the conditions of the prison services in the country.

South Sudan prisons have repeatedly stood a prey to human right activists for having unfavorable conditions for in mates.

Reports by activists have repeatedly cited some of the prisons in the country have no separate facilities for women and children. Others have been reported to contain both children and women and others do have inadequate health facilities, a situation that tantamount to high scale of human rights violation in the country.

Last year, the Human Rights Watch launched an investigative report depicting the status of human rights in South Sudan prisons.

The 105-page report titled “Prison Is Not for Me: Arbitrary Detention in South Sudan”, documents violations of due process rights, patterns of wrongful deprivation of liberty, and the harsh, unacceptable prison conditions in which detainees live.

During the launch, the then South Sudan Vice President Dr Riek Machar said that the report will help government in soliciting for suitable solutions to address the challenges facing the prisons department.

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 defense.

The government pointed 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.

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