This month we are excited to welcome our 2020 Secondees, participants in our professional development programme for African justice officials, in partnership with the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission. To date, we have enabled 28 talented individuals (22 from Kenya, 5 from Uganda and 1 from Cameroon) to participate in this unique learning experience.
During their 3-month stay in the UK, they will follow the prisoner journey from arrest to resettlement, gaining important experience of the British criminal justice system. They will meet with various agencies involved in the prison system, including visits to HMP Brixton and the Old Bailey, as well as meeting with former HM Inspector of Prisons Lord Ramsbotham, who is one of our patrons.
Introducing our Secondees
This programme rigorously selects and develops prison staff who have a track record of excellence, with training, networking and leadership skills to become changemakers in penal reform in Africa. This year we will be joined by three Kenyan Prison Governors, Charles Gerrard OGW, Jane Kirii and Jacquiline Onyango, as well as Ugandan Magistrate, Irene Nambatya.
CHARLES GERRARD OGW - ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF PRISONS
As the Officer-in-Charge at Kenya’s largest correctional facility, Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, Charles is responsible for the general administration of the institution in addition to overseeing the implementation of the department’s core mandates. That includes safe custody of inmates, rehabilitation and reformation of offenders, promotion of administration of justice and of social reintegration. He is also responsible for interpretation and implementation of the department’s policies and the Commissioner-General of Prison’s directives.
Charles joined the Kenya Prisons Service in 1989 and has served the department for about thirty years in eight stations and different capacities. Throughout his career, he has risen through the ranks and led some of the largest facilities within the country. Charles’ dedication to the service was recognised by Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta, who bestowed him with the Order of the Grand Warrior (OGW).
JANE KIRII - ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF PRISONS
Jane is currently working at Prisons Headquarters, Nairobi. She is the team leader of the Program Management Team (PMT), part of a Swedish, correctional services partnership program, which is aimed at strengthening the efficiency of the correctional services staff through capacity building.
She has worked in various capacities in Kenya’s prisons service for the last 30 years, most recently heading the maximum facility for women prisoners. She hopes the Secondment will empower her with knowledge, skills and networks to strengthen the capacity of her staff, leading to enhanced secure, humane, rehabilitation and reformation of offenders.
JACQUILINE ONYANGO - SUPERINTENDENT OF PRISONS
Jacquiline is currently in charge of Education at Langata Women Prison, Nairobi. She is responsible for the coordination of both formal and informal education programs for inmates which involves liaising with stakeholders to provide training that will meet the needs of the inmates and staff to enhance service delivery.
She hopes that her experience in the UK will help her to define better means of ensuring illiteracy is eradicated, justice is attained and provide opportunities for empowerment to all women passing through the correctional services.
IRENE NAMBATYA - MAGISTRATE
Irene is currently a Magistrate at the Chief Magistrates’ Court in Kampala, Uganda. Her core duties include hearing and determination of cases specifically Criminal, Land, Commercial and Family-related. She is also responsible for the supervision of staff, volunteers and interns at the Court. Given the bulk of her work, Irene has reduced case backlog using Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms, specifically plea bargaining and mediation. These mechanisms have also had a significant impact on restorative justice, quickened re-integration of offenders back into the community and reduced prison congestion.
Irene holds a Master’s Degree in International Commercial Law, a Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, a Bachelors of Laws Degree and a host of other postgraduate qualifications in Mediation, Arbitration, Plea Bargain and Human Rights.
The secondment programme is a platform for leaders to engage in reciprocal exchanges geared towards harnessing the enormous transformative potential residing in prisons. The Secondees are encouraged to adopt a reflective approach to their visit, looking at what they might take from their experience in the UK and building an action plan for their return to Africa. This takes place through fortnightly action learning sets to help them process what they experience and reflect on how they can best change policy and service delivery models in their countries.
The programme promotes their growth as managers as much as their development as leaders through coaching and authentic leadership courses. They are equipped with transferrable skills to lead mindfully and are expected to disseminate the knowledge they gain abroad among their staff, maximising the programme’s catalytic effect. We also encourage the dissemination of innovative African models by providing the Secondees with platforms such as lectures and conferences, where they can share with their colleagues in the UK their own best practices in prison management.
UPDATE: After careful consideration, we have decided to terminate the current Secondment Programme due to the recommendations put in place by the UK government to restrict the spread of coronavirus. Even though we are saddened by this, protecting the wellbeing of our fellow colleagues remains our paramount priority. We are now working to return our Secondees to their families safely and as soon as possible. We are grateful to all those who have contributed to our 2020 Programme and we look forward to our continued collaboration.