“We wanted a seat at the table, so we created our own”

The Global Freedom Fellowship gives a voice to the formerly incarcerated

In March 2023, formerly incarcerated people from around the globe met at Incarceration Nations Network (INN) hub in Cape Town as part of the first edition of the Global Freedom Fellowship. The programme aims to encourage cross-border connections between social change, visionary leadership and legacies of incarceration. South Africa was chosen for the two-weeks exchange due to its history forged on movement-organising behind bars – where Nelson Mandela famously declared “In my country you go to prison first, and then you become president.”

Khalil Chait was one of the fellows. He was incarcerated for 10 years in the Netherlands. Today, he works for Humanitas, an organisation that provides assistance to people in need. He has also set up his own foundation, Stitching Sileo, which brings together formerly incarcerated people with professionals to discuss issues related to detention and give them a greater platform. Prison Insider asked him three questions.

No matter what country we’re from, we all have the same way of dealing with people who don’t obey the law: we lock them up.

I believe in the potential of people in prison. We need to give them opportunities, not stigmatise them.

Placing a person in prison excludes them from their community and pushes them out of sight.