Conditions in African prisons are some of the poorest in the world. High rates of pre-trial detention and the overuse of prison sentences for minor offences contribute to severe overcrowding, with many prisons holding up to twice their official capacity.
Prisons lack sanitation and access to proper medical care, and provide few rehabilitative programmes, educational or vocational opportunities.
PRI has been an important innovator in the criminal justice sector in Sub-Saharan Africa since the 90s and has shaped several reforms to improve access to justice and prison conditions in the region.
Engaging governments, authorities and civil society organisations since 1991 has helped to drive positive changes in criminal justice which cater to the specific circumstances of each country in which we work.
Our recent achievements include:
- We are supporting COVID-19 response efforts in Uganda through advocacy for prisoner release schemes and provision of PPE to a number of prison facilities.
- Supporting, alongside the UN Peacekeeping Mission MINUSCA, the development and adoption of a demilitarisation strategy in Central African Republic. The strategy would see the full replacement of the armed forces who are responsible for prison security and management with civilian personnel.
- In Uganda we have been leading on torture prevention activities including conducting a pioneering police training course on investigative interviewing and international human rights standards for police officers using the ‘PEACE model’ – a practice promoted by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and adopted in a number of countries to replace confession-based interrogation methods, which can lead to coercion and torture.
- In Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, we led a pilot project on the development of community service as an alternative to short-term prison sentences for petty offences. The project saw an increased use of community service orders in the pilot regions, increased compliance with these orders and positive stakeholder attitudes towards these orders in the pilot regions.