Inmates at the Juba Central Prison. (File photo)

Advocate: Juba Central Prison overcrowded by remand inmates due to missing files

The Juba Central Prison, a facility run by the South Sudan National Prisons Service, has run out of room to house inmates.

The Juba Central Prison, a facility run by the South Sudan National Prisons Service, has run out of room to house inmates.

According to an advocate who talked to Radio Tamazuj, the prison has a capacity of 370 rooms to accommodate 370 inmates but is currently bursting at the seams due to overcrowding and is now holding over 20,000 prisoners. This, according to the lawyer, has resulted in very poor sanitation and hygiene at the facility.

Advocate Godfrey Victor Bulla, the Executive Director of Justice and Human Rights Observatory (JAHRO), a legal advocacy organization, told Radio Tamazuj Thursday that the prison has been overwhelmed by the surging numbers of prisoners.

“To be honest, the capacity of Juba Central Prison is overwhelmed,” he revealed. “The current number of inmates inside the prison has surpassed the capacity of the facilities that were constructed to accommodate a certain small number.”

Bulla said inmates on remand are more than those who have been convicted and called for the immediate decongestion of the prison.

“What I know is that the number of remanded prisoners is more than those convicted. Many people are being arrested and brought to the prison and some are not taken to court while others do not even have files at the prosecutor’s office,” he underscored. “This is very unbearable. Some of the prisoners are already developing sicknesses. Some sicknesses broke out in November last year and we almost lost two people with cases of chest infection, breathing issues, and paralysis.”

The advocate added: “There are even outbreaks of chicken pox that affect the skins of the prisoners.”

He further revealed that Juba Central Prison takes care of and houses inmates who are not supposed to be in the prison.

“Some people are brought by the public prosecutor’s office yet their files are not in court and they are detained on remand,” he said. “So, you find Juba Central Prison taking responsibility for those who are both convicted and those who are on remand.”

Asked about services in the prison, Bulla acknowledged the availability of services in the prison but said they are not enough for the ever-increasing number of inmates.

“Yes, they are providing facilities, I can say there is food and water but those facilities and services are not enough compared to the number of people in prison,” he insisted.

The advocate recommends a comprehensive approach and response to mitigate overcrowding at the prison and says the issues of violations of inmates’ rights must not be taken lightly because violation of a single constitutional right is a violation of the aspiration of the people of the country.

“All the institutions within the criminal justice system must perform their constitutional responsibility without any compromise; the police must be responsible and be trained very well to carry a proper investigations; the judiciary must provide transport, must provide access to justice without any delay; the public prosecution must take the accused person to court within 24 hours,” he recommended. “Institutions that are providing legal aid must be supported to provide it. So, I am calling for a comprehensive approach and response that we must work on providing this and put an end to this holding of people on remand indefinitely and create a proper system.”