On 15th March 2019, inmates of Luzira Women Prison had time to sing, dance, and take part in various activities, as they celebrated the International Women’s Day 2019. The event which reflected on the theme: “Gender Equality as a Way of Reducing Crime”, was organized by the African Prisons Project (APP), in partnership with the Uganda Prisons Service, the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF), and the Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC) of Makerere University School of Law.
The occasion was graced by Her Worship Kabugho Byakutaga Caroline, the Grade 1 Magistrate for Luzira Court, as the Chief Guest; and representatives from the Prisons Academy and Training School, Private Advocates, DGF, PILAC, and religious institutions, among others.
In her speech, the Chief Guest tasked inmates to play their part in raising children well so that boys grow up cognizant that women and girls need to be respected and treated equally in society. She encouraged them to become ambassadors of change and advocacy upon completion of their sentences; and urged them to be truthful before the courts of law at all times, as this could help them to get lenient sentences.
The key activities undertaken on the day included provision of free legal advice and assistance to inmates by APP-trained paralegals and students from Makerere University School of Law, and presentation of two drama skits on gender equality and reconciliation as mechanisms of reducing gender based and reactive crime in societies. There was also a netball match between 2 inmate teams, and a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Florence Banaba, the African Prisons Project Country Director (Uganda) to address questions and concerns from inmates on various issues such as community service, child custody, appeals, Ministers’ Orders, and care for children of inmates.
The inmates and the prison staff appreciated the event and its various activities. A Senior Welfare Officer at the Women Prison remarked: “The drama created a lot of legal awareness and the inmates who are ignorant of the law were educated so they can’t repeat the same mistake when they are released. They can also represent themselves easily in court and access justice.” In addition an inmate appreciated the powerful message delivered on the day. “Thank you for making Women’s Day celebration in Luzira Women Prison more colourful this year. The message was captivating and I believe many inmates learnt a lot” she said.
The celebrations were concluded with cutting of a cake offered by Rev. Antenna Pascal, the Church of Uganda Chaplain at the Women Prison.
The DFG supports APP to implement a project titlled: “Prisons' Justice Change-maker Project”. The project focuses on strengthening the rule of law and promoting respect of human rights through engaging JLOS actors to promote prisoners’ rights; improving access to justice for prisoners; and contributing to policy reform that upholds prisoners’ rights within the Prison Service.