From 3-5 February 2016, six NGOs from Uganda and Kenya participated in an exchange visit organised and hosted by the African Prisons Project (APP) in partnership with the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI).
The participants visited and interacted with prisoners and prison staff making a difference in women’s prisons in Uganda with the support from APP. Participants visited Luzira Women’s prison, Luzira Upper prisons, both in Kampala district, and Muinaina Prison and Kaweeri prison in Mubende District, Central Uganda.
This was the second exchange visit carried out and funded by the East Africa Criminal Justice Civil Society e-network, established by Penal Reform International (PRI) and FHRI to promote sharing best practice, information updates and dialogue on criminal justice reform in the region, including specific initiatives on alternatives to imprisonment, juvenile justice and women prisoners.
The exchange visit provided an opportunity for the NGOs and prison staff to learn from each other’s experiences and good practice on working with women offenders and how to implement the UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non Custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules), in order to inform and improve their work with women offenders in their home countries. Participants included Ms Jane Kuria, Chief Executive Officer, Faraja Foundation, Kenya; Mrs Tibaga Talitwala-Gacheru, Administration and Finance Lead, Visual Education Strategic Program Africa (VESPA), Kenya; Ms Teresa Njoroge, the Founder and Executive Director, Clean Start Solutions, Kenya; Juliet Nabbosa, Project Officer, Yearning Voices Foundation, Uganda and representatives from FHRI and APP.
The exchange visit to Kampala was such a success. I personally made great connections, especially with the inmates at Luzira Women and Upper Main Prison – had insightful conversations with the Prisons Officers In Charge of the four prisons we visited, and met dynamic people transforming the criminal justice system in Uganda and those affected. Ms Teresa Njoroge, the Founder and Executive Director, Clean Start Solutions, Kenya
It was agreed that further collaboration between the prisons and NGOs should be developed to enhance the success and impact of the projects being facilitated in prisons, while increasing sustainability and fostering networking and collaboration. Faraja offered to call for a stakeholders meeting in Nairobi to introduce APP which has expanded its work to some of the prisons in Kenya. It was also suggested that NGOs in Uganda working with prisoners and women in prison form a coalition to prevent duplication of work as well as improve sharing of best practices.