Mandela International Day
Nelson Mandela once said, "no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails."
Sentenced to life imprisonment, Mandela spent 27 years behind bars. It was during that time that he studied law via the University of London, where he was subsequently honoured as their most famous former student. Across East Africa today, prisoners and prison staff are following in his footsteps.
Whatever the reason they’re in prison, many live and work in overcrowded conditions. For those held on remand and still awaiting trial, many will never see a lawyer. Justice is too often out of reach.
The African Prisons Project is committed to providing access to justice for those who need it most. Not by pleading their cases for them. But by supporting some of the world’s most vulnerable to seek justice for themselves and those around them, and creating a catalyst for systematic change. Through our partnership with the University of London, individuals who live and work in prison are empowered in the midst of the challenges they face, to make, shape and implement the law for themselves.
People like Rahab, who was imprisoned as a notorious armed robber and is now one of our most effective Legal Aid Workers. Or Susan who was the first female inmate at Luzira Prison to study and graduate with a Diploma in Common Law, followed by a LLB Degree. In 2009 she led a death penalty petition in the Ugandan Constitutional Court, with 417 other death row inmates. As a result, mandatory death sentences were abolished. Susan was released in 2016 and now works with APP as an Ambassador. And Pascal, who started studying law whilst on death row. He has now completed his degree and is working towards his Masters. He is due for release in 2019. "I decided to forgive those who took me to prison, you forgive for the sake of your peace. After forgiving them, I took advantage of the opportunities in prison." He became APP’s first student to receive a Law Degree in September 2017 and now he supports others as a Graduate Assistant.
And what about you?
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” - Nelson Mandela
We can all become changemakers.
Find out more from our website about the work of African Prisons Project and how you can join us in our pursuit of justice.