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Project information

Revolutionising Access to Justice in East Africa

Believing that the power of the law should side with the poor, African Prisons Project empowers prisoners and prison staff in Kenya and Uganda with legal skills and expertise, so they can defend their and other people’s right to a fair trial and catalyse reforms to advance criminal justice.

The project is ongoing and the requested funding will support legal training and services from January to December 2019. This will bring us closer to our 2020 vision: 30,000 years of wrongful imprisonment avoided.

Charity information: AFRICAN PRISONS PROJECT

  • Need


    In Kenya and Uganda, over 50% of the prison population is awaiting trial, with many people spending years on remand. As prison facilities operate at almost 300% of their capacity, an influx of inmates exacerbates the already unsafe and unsanitary conditions in prison. The root of the problem is that many detainees should not be in prison and have never met a lawyer. They simply lack the means to defend themselves in court, resulting in unjust outcomes that can be challenged and overturned.


    We provide a pathway for inmates and prison staff to become lawyers and paralegals. Together, they understand how justice should be delivered and how different kinds of cases should be handled. They learn to advocate and develop a clear course of action for each hearing. Equipped with sufficient information from defendants themselves, judges can properly discern all the facts in a case and are able to deliver fair rulings. We put the power of the law into the hands of the poor.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Improved access to legal advice for inmates resulting in the release of the wrongfully incarcerated


    » Educate inmates and prison staff on crucial legal mechanisms for a fair trial (bail applications, alternative dispute resolution, and plea bargaining)
    » Train APP law students and paralegals to conduct legal awareness sessions and provide legal advice to other inmates, helping secure their release
    » Establish and run Legal Aid Clinics in prisons as venues for inmates to seek the support and advice of APP law students and paralegals

    What success will look like

    We will consider APP’s programme successful if we have provided 75,000 clients with legal services, resulting in the release of 30,000 wrongfully incarcerated inmates by 2020.

  • Impact


    APP-trained inmates and prison staff each go on to assist 300-400 fellow inmates in their legal cases who cannot afford quality legal services. Through our training, prisoners and prisons staff are able to challenge unjust laws, move into positions where they help implement the law, and present compelling and comprehensive information so that courts can deliver just rulings.


    As with any prison initiative globally, changes in prison management could lead to the removal of APP’s programmes from the prisons. APP thus maintains longstanding positive relationships with local prison services (the Kenya Prison Service and the Uganda Prison Service). We conduct regular feedback sessions with them to ensure that needs are being met and that APP is aware of any external threats to the program.


    APP will keep donors informed on the work progress and outputs in relation to this project’s milestones against targets through email touchpoints, social media, regular newsletters, and official annual reports.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £80,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £80,000 Legal Training and Education Training for inmates and prison staff on the fundamentals of the legal system and legal rights

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Anonymous £150,000 Guaranteed
    Golden Bottle Trust £60,000 Guaranteed
    Commonwealth Professional Fellowships Program £7,600 Guaranteed
    Ajahma Trust £60,000 Guaranteed
    Clifford Chance Foundation £50,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Our project is carried out in Kenya and Uganda. While progress has been made in both countries toward establishing a framework to promote the rule of law, in reality, violation of human rights is commonplace, particularly for inmates. Multiple priorities compete for limited government resources in both countries. Faced with insurmountable security issues, public health threats, and socio-economic challenges, the prisoners’ rights fall low on the political agenda of both countries.


    APP’s students will deepen their legal knowledge and gain skills that they can use beyond prison. Inmates will receive high-quality legal advice and knowledge on self-advocacy, and benefit from reduced sentences or releases. Prison services will benefit from reduced prison populations and be able to focus on rehabilitation instead of sustained incarceration. The public benefits from living in societies where the rule of law is effectively upheld.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We've provided access to basic legal knowledge to over 30,000 prisoners in Uganda and Kenya and supported over 5,000 prisoners in case resolution. Our legal support from 2014 to 2017 resulted in 3,393 persons released and 24 death sentences averted. Since the start of 2018, we’ve averaged over 250 releases per month.

    Our students have influenced national policies. Susan Kigula, our first female student to complete a law degree, led and won a petition against mandatory death sentences in Uganda.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Alexander McLean

    As Founder and Director General, Alexander's drive and passion for the welfare of prisoners is central to APP’s mission and 2020 vision.

    Peter Tibigambwa

    As Country Director, Peter is responsible for running the entire access to justice programme in Uganda.

    Sheila Waruhiu

    As Country Director, Sheila is responsible for running the entire access to justice programme in Kenya.

    Nick Johnson

    As Board Chair, Nick is responsible for expanding APP's network of partners.