Infectious Disease Attacks 100 Aweil Inmates

Inmates at the Rumbek Central Prison. The Aweil central prison has been severely overcrowded with up to over 700 inmates in one room meant for only 150 inmates. [Gurtong | File ]

According to the complaints released by the infected inmates, the disease starts with watery and itchy sores, which later bursts causing uncountable wounds on private parts for both women and men.

“I have five months with this sickness though we have been complaining for the quick intervention from the government but all in vain. This starts from my private parts especially testes and anus with some itchy sores which were broadened in most sensitive parts. I thought it was normal itching and irritation of the skin diseases but later wondered why it was only focused in one place of the body without reaching to other parts. I had to explain this to some of my colleagues but found out that some of them had already been infected with the same symptoms,” Arop Mayik Kuan one of the inmates reported.

Another captive, Anyar Wol who has been sentenced to life imprisonment and now has four years in the prison so far says the administration of the prison is so reluctant to intervene in most cases affecting the captives in the prison and urges the prison’s administration to double their efforts in putting ahead the human life as an important priority in all aspects.

“This disease and other diseases that have been breaking out here in this prison have not been timely responded to because our prison officers and the administration are always reluctant in addressing concerns of health-related complaints from the inmates. This disease was reported long time ago but they insisted to respond medically,” he complains.

On technical point of view, the Doctor who was invited to reveal the samples of the disease and the root cause Dr. Dut Pioth says the disease is common in most congested places and that the disease is mostly transmitted from one person to another through human faeces and urine contacts.

“This disease is always caused by the congestion especially when there is no proper ventilation. It can be treated but when it takes long time can affect productive parts of the patient,” Dr. Dut confirmed to the press in Aweil.

Aweil central prison has been severely overcrowded with up to over 700 inmates in one room especially for the males meant for only 150 inmates.

According to new director of central Prison in Aweil Colonel Ezekiel Yuroba, the preparations for improving the lifestyles of prisoners especially upgrading the prison to have more spaces is the national ministry of Interior’s mandate in collaboration with state government in NBGS to address and respond to such challenges arising within the prison.

“We are not the policy-makers but implementers, what we do here is to report any challenge to our prisons State Director and he reports the same case to ministry of Interior for solution, so this issue of lack of space in Aweil central prison is a long time issue which had earlier been reported but waiting response from above,” Yuroba told journalists.

In May, Northern Bahr el Ghazal Prisons Service Officials raised alarm on the poor conditions at the correction facility calling for government to expand the prison due to a high influx of inmates after three inmates died.

The Northern Bahr el Ghazal Prisons Service Acting Director, Samuel Nhial Akot then said that the rooms were made long time during the colonial rule purposely to accommodate small number of criminals as part of the regional branch by then but there is no extension that has been made since.

Three inmates died at the Aweil Main Prison in January following a disease outbreak.

Nhial noted that the rooms are so squeezed to accommodate more prisoners on arrival because of daily high influx of crime.

The prison was meant to accommodate 250 prisoners but is estimated to host over 500 prisoners with congestion affecting hygiene standards at the facility.

Regardless of these numerous challenges, Nhial discloses that prison services in the state are committed to fair and humanly approach.

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.

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.

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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