15th April 2024
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Two mentally ill women released from Juba Prison

Author: Michael Daniel | Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2024

(In blue): Women jailed at Juba Prison. (Photo/Michael Daniel).

Two mentally challenged women previously detained by their families at Juba Central Prison have been released, the prison confirmed, amid concerns over the jailing of mentally ill persons in the country.

The detained women are 30-year-old Achol (not her real name) and 27-year-old Rejoice (not her real name), who were sentenced to 6 months’ imprisonment in January 2024.

The two young women were jailed by their families using section 177 of the South Sudan Penal Act 2008.

However, Juba Prison Director Lt. General Atok Atem Barac said the detained women were released on the 16th and 18th of this month, after the family heeded his appeal on Eye Radio.

He recalled the Ministry of Health to build a psychiatric hospital for mentally ill persons.

“The interview I did with Eye Radio in January made positive responses where some families came after hearing the interview and took their beloved one from the prison,” he said.

“On Saturday a man came and released his sister and on Monday another man came and took his daughter.”

“We are facing some difficulties in securing a place for people with mental illness and I am still urging the Ministry of Health to build a hospital for people with mental illness.”

– ‘Prison not for mentally ill’ –

On her part, Major Christen Philips Pitia, the deputy director of Juba Women’s Prison confirmed the release of the two women.

She said the facility received the inmate with mental illness in accordance with the doctor’s report.

The prison official said the facility is holding 7 women with mental illness – including two who committed a crime and are waiting to trial.

Speaking to Eye Radio, she urged families not to send their loved ones with mental illness to jail.

“The report of jailing any person with mental issues came from the doctor after his or her family filed a case at the police station and then transferred them to court.”

“Right now, in Juba Women’s Prison, we have 7 inmates with mental illness 5 were brought by their families while the other 2 were jailed for committing a crime and are waiting for trial.”

“As we know, prison is not for treatment but for jailing people who committed crimes to be reformed but for people with mental illness supposed to be taken to hospital.”

In February 2024, Juba Central Prison Director raised concerns about the lack of a psychiatric hospital, which has compelled families to send 34 mentally ill persons to the prison facilities.

Lt. Gen Atok Atem Barac said the prison cannot reject the mentally ill because they are brought with legal warrants.

He, however, added that the mentally challenged persons are not criminals, and have been brought by their families for the sake of their safety.

According to section 177 of the South Sudan Penal Code 2008, whoever commits an act or illegal omission that causes any common injury, danger, or annoyance to the public may have committed the offense of public nuisance.

 

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