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James Kabaka Quintous - Radio Emmanuel
Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 09:16
There are 254 prisoners including 72 remand cases in the Torit state prison currently. Almost half of them are women. Out of these prisoners, seven are children who accompany their mothers to prison. This is according to records presented by prison officers to Radio Emmanuel.
 
A legal Aid Officer working for Support Peace Initiative Development Organization or SPIDO in Torit is calling for frequent follow-ups at Torit prison to avoid prolonged detention for various offences without trial.
 
Jacob Atari Albano said in their last visit to the state prison, they found eleven cases of inmates in remand. While some have even been forgotten about completely. The activist says prolonged detention without trial is against the law.
 
Regina Abau is one of the female detainees who has been behind bars for eight months. She has never appeared before the court of law.
 
 ‘‘I was brought here in April this year. My case has not been tried since then. I fought my co-wife and killed her. I have still not been tried for the past nine months on remand. I am kept with convicts and we share food together even though I am still in the hands of the police’’.
 
Mark Idroo is the officer in charge of the Torit prisons. He confirms that the facility currently holds 72 remand suspects who have never appeared in court.
 
The director of Prison services in Torit state Khamis Alhaj Bale is calling on state law actors to speed up the process of court hearings to reduce the number of inmates in the facility.
 
He says, there are lower level cases like theft that can be easily solved.
 
 ‘‘We are consulting with the attorney general and the lawyers to speedy up court cases of people on remand. We will suggest to them that those who have small cases like theft and those whose witnesses are absent can be judged to reduce the number of inmates’’.
 
Torit state minister for local government admits suspects in the state prison stay in detention without trial because there is only one resident judge in the state. And the court is backed up.
 
Ukidimoi Ogura says all remand cases are subject to renewal to ensure that inmates are lawfully detained within the specified period.
 
 ‘‘For remand inmates, we have the police, public prosecutor Attorney who are following up. They don’t allow these people to stay on remand without renewing their remand status. The same with the juveniles. Currently, those ones are still within the process of trial. Because we only have one judge in the state. Definitely they cannot be released until they go through the fair trial process’’.
 
Lawyer John wani Lado is the public prosecutor attorney in Torit, he admits prolonged detention violates the right of suspects to fair trial.
 
He calls for proactiveness to avoid people spending meaningless time in detention on remand.
 
Lawyer Wani advices the people to follow up cases in court to guarantee speedy trials and justice.
 
A visit with inmates at the Torit prison reveals most of them have stayed for long without trial, especially women. Some have stayed for nearly a year without trial. Some are juveniles who have waited so long they have become adults in prison.
 
Part Two – Sub Section 19(6) of South Sudan’s Constitution – 2011 says “Every accused person shall be entitled to be tried in his or her presence in any criminal trial without undue delay.” But in this situation, this law has clearly not been adhered to.
 
This story was produced with support from Journalists for Human Rights strengthening media in South Sudan.
 

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