Morris Kaberia’s Visit to SA (INN)
A Trip of A Lifetime
On 7th November 2019, for the first time in his life, Morris Kaberia boarded a Kenya Airways plane and left his country for Johannesburg, South Africa, to attend a symposium organised by the Incarceration Nations Network (INN). He was joined by justice activists representing seven countries—Ghana, Kenya, the Netherlands, Brazil, the Czech Republic, South Africa and the USA—for a two-day high-profile event in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Just over a year ago, Morris was released from Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, after 13 years behind bars. Fellow inmates formed part of the legal team in Kamiti that prepared court documents to help him successfully defend himself. On his second appeal, the court found that Kaberia’s rights at trial had been violated and ruled against both his sentence and his conviction.
Today Morris is an Assistant Legal Aid Officer at Machakos Prison, Kenya. He’s also in his final year studying law with the University of London. He’s hoping to join the 20 law students who have graduated through APP’s Justice Changemaker Programme.
A Global Justice Gathering
The INN event in Johannesburg was a gathering of individuals and organisations representing the work of justice reform, from around the world. Morris writes,
“I was impressed to realise that so many organisations are involved in an almost similar way, working just as APP does; and that there is much we could learn from each other to improve justice delivery. What impressed me is the common understanding that there is a lot to do to ensure the success of our programs, that may be easily attained by putting our efforts together and focusing on influencing policy changes.”
“When it comes to worldwide justice work, we have so much in common. Our problems and their solutions cut across national borders, which means that, collaboration and replication are vital parts of our work.”
“It was an awesome event intended to inspire, educate and prompt people to realize that not only can justice be done in a global context—it benefits from being done as such because it allows us to stretch the boundaries of our imaginations when it comes to radical innovation and the limits of what is possible and what is not. “
The event and its subsequent follow up work will be aimed at bringing radical conversations about global justice reform to wider audiences, all of whom have a role to play in advocating against prisons as a knee-jerk response to crime and promoting innovative measures that truly build safe communities.
Justice Initiatives From Around the World
The next day at Wits University, a full-day symposium allowed global delegates to delve more deeply into their work in a host of exciting areas: -
Building worker cooperatives in prisons in Brazil; reducing the remand population in Ghana via All for Justice Program, mobile courts and policy change; offering legal training and law degrees to incarcerated people in Kenya and Uganda, who in turn assist colleagues with legal advice and skills for self-representation; launching vastly progressive, open, small scale facilities in Amsterdam; offering job and re-entry services to formerly incarcerated people in the Czech Republic; and much more were the discussions of the day.
All of the speakers, including Morris, expounded on the problems they had identified in our criminal justice system and how they are working to offer solutions. They talked of the impact in their own countries and of the influence on policy changes within their own countries and beyond. Together they agreed that, although this work faces many challenges, with coalition building, corroboration and replication of ideas, these challenges can be overcome.
There Are No Limits
This global gathering attracted strong media and social media coverage from those in attendance as well as members of the press. This is important in our endeavour to change the narrative about criminal justice, by elevating effective work from around the world, often in hostile climates where there is an aversion to even considering the crisis of prisons and the people in them. Morris reflects,
“I was moved and excited about the global impact this can have when we truly engage in acts of correcting and connecting which is INN’s motto. I would propose that we put efforts to build a safer, more just world in partnership with all of the like-minded organizations around the world.”
“I feel humbled by the opportunity to visit another country which helps in network building and learning more about the work we are engaged in. It was an awesome experience for me and an historical one too, especially with visiting the Nelson Mandela (my Hero)’s house at Orlando West in Soweto and the Apartheid Museum.”
“In conclusion, I would describe the events as eye opening activities for me and for us as an organisation as well as for other organisations involved with justice delivery around the world. I dream of one day when we may be able to have a global organisation which can help advocate for global policy changes of our criminal justice systems and engage with global entities including the United Nations towards eradicating injustices around the world especially those meted to the poor and the vulnerable.”
“It was a proof that irrespective of having been in incapacitated for years, still there are no limits to what one can achieve in life if he or she remains focused.”
Become A Changemaker
Morris Kaberia’s story is extraordinary in many ways. But the impact of the criminal justice on many people around the world is not. Many people have no affordable, access to justice. This global gathering reminds us that there are justice activists everywhere, facing great challenges, and providing innovative solutions, so that together we can end the justice crisis. Join us in providing legal skills and services in prison communities across East Africa, and become part of the Justice Changemaker community.