Transforming lives behind bars: UNMISS Quick Impact Project brings dignity to Terekeka prisoners
CENTRAL EQUATORIA- A glimmer of hope shines through the bars of Terekeka County Prison, some 75 kilometres from the capital Juba. Recently, the thorough renovation of the correctional facility, funded by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, was officially handed to local authorities.
While having dilapidated structures made of iron sheets or bamboo (the perimeter) replaced by strong, proper walls and ceilings may not have raised many of the inmates’ eyebrows, new latrines and cell blocks separating not only male from female law offenders but also juvenile delinquents from adults are bound to make more of a meaningful and positive difference.
"We must respect the rule of law and all human rights that inmates are also entitled to, and one such right is dignity and humane living conditions,” said Colonel Joseph William Lado, Director of Prison Services in Terekeka County.
The significant upgrade of the prison facilities, made possible by the peacekeeping mission’s implementing partner, the Centre for Innovative Programmes, aims to enhance both the safety and the opportunities for personal growth of inmates embarking on their journeys of self-improvement. With men, women and youth set to be separated, the special rehabilitation needs of each group can be accommodated. This, in turn, is expected to facilitate prisoners’ social reintegration once they have served their sentences.
Elisabeth Haynes-Sageder, representing the Head of the UNMISS Field Office in Juba, highlighted how the refurbishment initiative is in line with the peacekeeping mission’s mandate to strengthen both the rule of law and the protection of human rights in South Sudan.
"We are here to contribute to the improvement of every link of what makes up a country’s judicial system, including access to justice and the fair and humane treatment of prisoners and detainees. We ask that local authorities support and work with prison authorities to ensure that the good use of these new facilities is maximized,” she said.
To make that happen, Colonel Lado pledged to look for more support and partners to build an office for corrections officers and a kitchen to be used by inmates as well.