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A juvenile detainee stares out the window at the Naguru Remand Home, Kampala, Uganda, Nov. 13, 2006 (photo by Flickr user Endre Vestvik, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license).

Hidden Cruelties: Prison Conditions in Sub-Saharan Africa

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Last year, during a midnight search for contraband in South Africa’s St. Albans maximum security prison, more than 200 inmates were forced to lie naked on the ground in a human chain, each one’s face pressed into his neighbors’ buttocks. They were then subjected to beatings, electric shocks and torture.

The abuse was not an isolated case. According to a complaint lodged by former inmate Bradley McCallum with the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC), a similar incident occurred at St. Albans in 2005 after the stabbing of a prison warden. In his complaint, McCallum alleged that inmates were forced to lie naked in a human chain, then sprayed with water, bitten by dogs and beaten by guards with batons and pickaxe handles. He described how he himself was shocked, beaten and raped with a baton. As a result of the shock and fear, he said, inmates urinated and defecated on themselves and one another. ...

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