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Inmates fear Covid-19, appeal for pardon

Author: Alhadi Hawari | Published: Wednesday, April 22, 2020

File: Inmates at Juba Central Prison are reportedly living in poor conditions | Credit | HRW

Inmates at Juba Central Prison have appealed to the government to decongest the correctional facility as advised by human rights watchdogs.

The decongestion of prisons is aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus to jails.

The Juba Prison was initially built to house just less than 300 inmates but it is now home to 1,351 prisoners.

“We are always hearing that outside there is Coronavirus and prisoners are still being brought from outside to the prisons here,” a prisoner told Aya Benjamin-the Minister of Gender, Child, and Social Welfare during her visit to the prison on Tuesday.

“You as our brothers, sisters, and fathers of South Sudan, you are supposed to protect us as South Sudanese people and also you can forgive and pardon us so that we can protect ourselves alone.”

Another inmate narrated that some minors and pregnant women suffer from hunger because they “don’t have people to visit them and bring them food.”

In response, the minister Aya Benjamin promised to “work on things” that fall directly under her ministry to ensure the prisoners are safe.

“It’s a very very serious issue, the condition under which these people are staying is very bad and given Coronavirus is my prayers that it never steps here because it’s going to be a real disaster,” she said.

Last week authorities in Lakes State released 140 prisoners in response to an order for decongestion of prisons due to coronavirus fears.

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