Michael Seguya was released from Kampala Remand Prison - Uganda on 6th March 2019.
Since September 2018 Michael has been working with us as a Prison Peer Educator overseeing our weekly open forum sessions where inmates can gain access to free legal support and services. He notes that these sessions have significantly improved levels of legal awareness amongst inmates.
“Before APP came to this community, only a few were privileged enough to afford their own lawyers. It was a dark world when it came to legal support and services. Now, they are able to represent themselves in court and their confidence levels have far exceeded how they felt when they started.”
Uganda’s Prisoners Defying Expectations
Kampala Remand sits within Luzira Maximum Security Prison and holds approximately 1,000 prisoners awaiting trial. The Luzira Prison complex includes the only maximum security prison in the country and houses Uganda's death row inmates.
APP has worked at Luzira amongst the men’s and women’s prisons over the past 10 years. In 2018 we hosted Uganda’s first ever prison-based TEDx and Graduation Thanksgiving in Luzira Upper Prison, as well as opening a Legal Aid Clinic and a Youth Centre here.
Prison students Susan Kigula, Moses Ekwam and Pascal Kakuru all graduated with a world-class University of London Law Degree [LLB]:
Moses Ekwam was 4 years and 11 months into his sentence when his conviction was overturned and he was released. He was re-admitted into the army and posted to the Oliver Tambo School of Leadership whilst he continued his legal studies. He achieved his LLB Degree, was promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant and transferred to the army's legal services wing where he now serves as a military prosecutor.
Susan Kigula, now released and an Ambassador for APP, spent 16 years in Luzira’s Women’s Prison after receiving a death sentence at 21. She graduated with her law degree and you can read more about her story.
Pascal Kakuru remains in Luzira Upper Prison and is due for release in 2019. Pascal supports others as a Graduate Assistant to the prison-based APP Law Degree Tutors as well as becoming Editor of the prison law journal. He has continued studying for his Masters.
Overcrowded and Under-resourced
Congestion within the prison is one of the biggest challenges. Ugandan prisons hold 3 times as many prisoners as they were built for. According to the World Prison Brief, approximately half these prisoners are held on remand - still awaiting trial - due to an overcrowded and under-resourced justice system.
“Many inmates were frustrated with a court process that kept them in remand for long periods without knowing what to do next. For some court files had gotten lost. While others were unable to file a necessary notice of appeal. Some of the inmates had received harsh sentences because they had not understood the language and procedures of the court. Other inmates did not know that it was their constitutional right to apply for bail, file for appeal, or request for their court proceedings in order to prepare a good defense case. Within this community we literally knew nothing about the law.”
However, since the involvement of APP, the story in Kampala Remand has changed and ‘lock up’ (the number of inmates awaiting trial) has reduced - as prisoners have been able to apply to the court for bail, reduced sentencing or appeal.
Michael tells of the impact that APP has had on him personally, “APP has changed the lives of many including myself. I have basic legal knowledge, I am more confident and I have contributed to restoring hope in the lives of my fellow inmates. Now I know my rights both as a citizen and as an inmate. I can offer support to others seeking help with legal matters. My sentence is soon coming to an end. I will soon start a new journey in my life after two long years of imprisonment.
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