The prison is severely overcrowded. Congestion precipitates the spread of infectious diseases that prevail due to malnutrition and a lack of hygiene, clean water and adequate health care. Prisoners exist in squalor without even the most basic of necessities. However, what the prison is perhaps most notorious for is its problem of gang rape, the existence of which, though frighteningly common-place, is often denied because of attitude towards homosexuality in East African society.
Kenyan prisoners left in appalling conditions
Many prisoners remain incarcerated without a trial
In 2004 during his gap year Alex visited Luzira Maximum Security Prison and Death Row in Uganda. Here is an extract from an article that he wrote:
“During a tour of the prison buildings, which were built in 1927, I entered the prison clinic. As I went in a 19 year old boy, the same age as me at the time, died. Seeing him die in this miserable place, the walls hadn’t been painted before Idi Amin’s time, there were no lights and little furniture, made me decide to do something about it. I came back to England for two weeks to raise funds and returned with 3500 pounds, which I used to provide windows, lighting, mattresses, linen, furniture and uniforms for the 65 bed sick bay.
Since then I have renovated the clinic at Victoria Women’s Prison in Uganda and I also refurbished their death row. I collected more than 7000 library books from the UK and flew them to Uganda. They are now installed in the Aileen Chapel Library in Upper prison, with a smaller branch on the death row. As well as providing books, I provided shelves, table, chairs and lighting. I have sponsored two volleyball tournaments and a football tournament in the men’s prison”.
Last April Alexander visited Pademba Road Prison in Sierra Leone where he also conducted renovations and established an agricultural project run by the inmates.
This year Gil and three others are traveling to Kenya where they will visit Kamiti Maximum Security Prison in Nairobi. With over 4,500 inmates Kamiti prison is the largest penal facility in East and Central Africa and said by some to be one of the worst in the world. The conditions there are grim to say the least. The prison is severely overcrowded. Congestion precipitates the spread of infectious diseases that prevail due to malnutrition and a lack of hygiene, clean water and adequate health care. Prisoners exist in squalor without even the most basic of necessities. However, what the prison is perhaps most notorious for is its problem of gang rape, the existence of which, though frighteningly common-place, is often denied because of attitude towards homosexuality in East African society.
This is an extract from a Kenyan journalist.
“The state of Kamiti and other Kenyan prisons is most appalling and dehumanizing. To be precise, Kenyan prisons are death chambers. Prisoners are abused routinely. Diseases like HIV/Aids, cholera, and malnutrition are
rife. Rapes, sodomy and other forms of sexual attacks are rampant, fueled by massive congestion.
The government has neglected the prisons for many years. The criminal justice system in Kenya is a joke, unfit for its purpose. We urgently need swift penal and prison reforms, but these desperate pleas fall on the deaf ears of those in power.”
The purpose of their trip is two-fold. Firstly they will renovate death row and buy the prisoners triple-decker beds. Prisoners on death row sleep on the floor with up to 14 people sharing a cell, which were designed for 3. These cramped and huddled sleeping arrangements increases the likelihood of rape. They will also renovate the large disused prison library. Books not only offer the the opportunity to further minds but as a means to educate themselves about, and experience (indirectly) the world beyond a prison. They hope to encourage better literacy, communication skills and general prospects for when released. Most of the inmates cannot afford legal representation and attempt to teach themselves basic legal skills. They have provided many law books and medical manuals.
Books serve a wide range of purposes for a diverse range of inmates, from illiterate teens to ex-politicians. To meet a diverse range of purposes they have collected over 30,000 books. An extensive library has been loaded onto a freight container and is on its way to Kenya.
All members of the forth-coming trip to Kenya have paid for their own flights and all their expenses. They still need more money for this project and of course for future projects.
Please help the African Prison Project and donate what you can.
The APP needs further funding and sponsorship.
For details of how to send donations please contact Gil Percival at firstname.lastname@example.org
For further details on the APP’s projects please contact Alexander Mclean at email@example.com