Why our books count in Uganda and Kenya

The African Prisons Project is making a huge difference to the lives of prisoners and their broader communities in Uganda and Kenya. The ILBF is delighted to be playing its own small part to assist their wonderful work. Peter Tibigambwa, Country Director for the APP, writes about what the ILBF donation means to them.


There are many gifted people each with different gifts: those with excellence in musical composition, others with athletic prowess and yet others in many other fields. Last year, the folks of the International Law Book Facility (ILBF) exhibited their particular gift – the gift of giving, when they shipped over a large and varied consignment of most useful assorted legal texts and other books to the African Prisons Project for use by our supported law students.

The shipment which arrived early this year was received with excitement by the prison’s administration, prisoners, and prison staff studying law with the support of APP in Uganda and Kenya.

“This is exactly what we have been waiting for. Now we have everything we need to adequately prepare for our upcoming exams!” Stated Pascal Kakuru, APP student and inmate in the third year of his law degree.

Prison staff at Naivasha prison receiving the books (2)

Prison staff at Naivasha prison receiving the books

ILBF has been working in partnership with APP since 2008 when a shipment of 31 boxes including law reports, encyclopedias and legal texts, to stock a proposed law library within the Luzira complex of prisons in Kampala, Uganda. The most recent shipment of 22 boxes was distributed to prisoners and prison staff in five prisons in Kenya and Uganda including the male and female sections of Luzira maximum security prison, Kamiti, Naivasha and Lang’ata prisons.

Our current intake of students comprises of 48 prisoners and prison staff. On our part, APP with the invaluable support of partners like the ILBF provides study material including textbooks, financial support, mentoring and guidance to prisoners and prison staff who are pursuing their law studies under the University of London International Programmes.

The students are currently focused on the final preparations for their exams starting May 2016. The textbooks and materials donated continue to be an invaluable reference point for the various modules they will sit exams in this year and will benefit our students in the years to come. The material also informs the development of the teaching material by our Tutors as they prepare for their classes. APP’s Senior Tutor, Rabia Pasha based in Nairobi states:

“All the students feel much more confident having received books. We have noted great progress in their assignments since then. This donation was particularly of great value this year as the University no longer supplies the essential textbooks for certain subjects (primarily the core modules) for new students registering for 2015/16. With the students expected to source their own textbooks, ILBF’s support could not have come at a better time.”  

APP Senior Tutor, Rabia Pasha, handing over the books received from ILBF to the Officer in Charge at Naivasha prison and some of the staff studying law with the support of APP. (2)

APP Senior Tutor, Rabia Pasha, handing over the books received from ILBF to the Officer in Charge at Naivasha prison and some of the staff studying law with the support of APP

Pascal Kakuru, an inmate in the third year of his Law Degree, sits as the Legal Advisor of the Human Rights Committee at the Luzira Maximum Security prison in Kampala. The Committee, which comprises of both prison staff and prisoners, has the responsibility of monitoring the human rights situation at the prison and reporting arising issues to the administration. Their role also extends to providing basic legal advice and support to the most vulnerable people in prison, those unable to afford the services of a lawyer.

For Pascal, his role requires extensive research and reference to legal texts in order to formulate well thought out opinions to guide the committee’s work. With the books received from ILBF, he does not have to look very far.

This year, APP will systematise the support provided by the students under its Legal Education Programme by setting up a pilot drop-in legal clinics in prisons where our students are located.

This initiative is very much student centered and will be led by current and new scholars. The clinics will play a role similar to drop-in legal advice clinics where they exist in universities. The students, working under the supervision of practising lawyers, will provide free, on the spot, face-to-face legal advice to their peers in prison, particularly the poor and marginalised who are unable to secure the services of a lawyer.

This role will require the students to carry out legal research, legal writing, investigation and analysis of facts in order to assist their peers in translating their concerns into legally recognisable categories and provide concise explanations of legal concepts and processes.

APP staff hand over the books to prison staff and one of the prisoners at Lang’ata Women’s prison. (2)

APP staff hand over the books to prison staff and one of the prisoners at Lang’ata Women’s prison

Through our Legal Education Programme in prison, we are creating the next generation of penal reformers in Africa. We are working to provide them with the resources, confidence, social and professional networks and academic skills to become ‘force multipliers’ to lead change across the continent. They will ensure that African prisons become more humane, rehabilitation focused institutions, orientated towards the positive transformation of their wards.

ILBF is contributing to making this vision a reality. One step at a time.

Peter R. Tibigambwa
Country Director,
African Prisons Project