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Prisoners in Red Sea state engaged in hard labour without protective gear in contravention of safety standards

27 November 2017

ACJPS is concerned for the safety of prisoners of Port Sudan Federal prison who are engaged in hard labour without any precautions undertaken to ensure their safety.

According to reports received, prisoners from Sawakin Federal Prison and Port Sudan Federal Prison have been engaged in hard labour such as salt mining and drainage cleaning without being provided with protective gear endangering their health and safety.

From 18 November 2017, prisoners from Port Sudan Federal prison have been engaged in cleaning the drainage system of Port Sudan’s central market. Whilst cleaning the drainage, the inmates were not provided with protective gear and have been left exposed to possible health and safety hazards as the drainage contains sharp objects and toxic waste.

ACJPS has also received information that prisoners from Sawakin Prison are engaged in hard labour at a salt mine in Sawakin city, 20 kilometres in the south of Port Sudan, between Port Sudan City and the Airport. Reports received indicate that prisoners carry out this work while barefoot leaving their feet leaving them exposed to occupational hazards as a result of contact with salt crystals and brine as well as sunlight and glare due to the reflection of the sun on the crystalline granules contained in the salt.

International standards provide for restrictions on how prison labour should be used. The UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) provides that prisoners shall not be used for private benefit or financial gain. The rules provide that precautions to ensure safety and health of prisoners are put in place and that prisoners are afforded equitable remuneration for work done.

The Sudanese Prison Act of 2010 provides that inmates engaged in productive work should be provided an adequate salary for work done. It further states that the salary awarded as well as benefits shall be provided under the regulations. The Act further provides that prisoners shall benefit from protections under the Labour Act, 1997 and Work Injuries Compensation Act, 1981.

The engagement of prisoners in hard labour taking any precautions such as providing protective gear, to ensure that their safety and health are not at risk contravenes with protections provided under Sudan law and international standards.

ACJPS calls upon the Government of Sudan to guarantee the safety of the prisoners by ensure the necessary precautions to protect them from occupational hazards or injury are put in place. Prisoners should be provided with protective gear and tools to ensure their health and safety are protected as they carry out their work. The Government should also investigate the allegations of non-remuneration of the prisoners for the work done and ensure that the prisoners are able to earn an honest living after release and provided with earnings accumulated upon release.

Contact info:

Mossaad Mohamed Ali, ACJPS Executive Director: +256 779584542; Cynthia Ibale, Program Officer: cynthia@acjps.org

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