At least Seventeen inmates have been released from Juba Central Prison after their debts were cleared by legal aid organizations on Friday.
The convicts were in jail for minor crimes like alcohol, quarrels, burglary, domestic violence, and court fines.
They were released after two rights organizations paid one million South Sudanese pounds of their debts.
The organizations that redeemed the inmates are the Legal Aid and Human Rights Organization, and the Appeal Association Program.
Leek John Alier, the Executive Officer of the Legal Aid and Human Rights Organizations says they will release 50 inmates next week.
Alier said the inmates to be freed are those who had served prison terms ranging from six months to three years.
“We, in solidarity with our partners, were able to release 17 inmates from Juba Central Prison, and this is considered a preliminary step. We have a plan to release 50 inmates next week,” he said.
“We and two partners cooperated with the prison administration in studying issues subject to release.”
On his part, Advocate Reech Ring Bol appeals to the Attorney-General to review criminal cases transferred from the different police stations as a solution to the overcrowding at the prison.
“Inmates in South Sudan are suffering, and there are attempts by lawyers to provide some assistance. Here in the prison, there are many who are due to small amounts of fines,” he said.
Ring says many of the inmates remanded to the Central Prison have spend long time in jail without trial.
He calls on the Ministry of Justice to provide legal aid to the prisoners.
“You may find people who stay in prison for a period of four years more than the penalty prescribed for the crime This is due to the absence of states in allocating or making use of the legal aid privileges approved by Parliament.”
“This caused the death of some in prisons, so we, as lawyers, appeal to the Ministry of Justice to play the role assigned to it, and it has control over the procedures before the trial.”
Last week, lawmakers in Western Bahr el Ghazal state facilitated the release of six female inmates from Wau Central Prison.
Some of them were imprisoned and finned for theft and other petty crimes.
Their release came after the state legislative assembly paid off their fines, amounting to 260 thousand South Sudanese Pounds.
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