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DPP set to free 220 remand inmates over lack of substantive evidence

According to Abodo, a review of 2556 case files showed that the 220 cases don’t deserve to be in the system due to lack of enough evidence against the accused persons. 552 of the case files reviewed were from Masaka, 466 Kampala, 338 Jinja and 1200 from Mbarara district.

Mbale, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT | The office of the Director of Public Prosecution has withdrawn charges against 220 remand inmates citing lack of sufficient evidence to pin them. 

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Justice Jane Francis Abodo disclosed this while speaking at the official opening of the plea-bargain session at Maluku Main Prison in Mbale City on Monday. 

According to Abodo, a review of 2556 case files showed that the 220 cases don’t deserve to be in the system due to lack of enough evidence against the accused persons. 552 of the case files reviewed were from Masaka, 466 Kampala, 338 Jinja and 1200 from Mbarara district. 

She attributed the mess to the unfair conduct of some state attorneys who do not carry out thorough checks of the files before committing accused persons to prisons. 

“It has been realized that sometimes some state attorneys because they are young in the profession they tend to committee people to prison without enough evidence” said justice Abodo. 

Justice Abodo said they decided to pursue the plea bargaining for remaining remand inmates to ease congestion in prisons owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Apparently, there are 60,887 inmates in prison facilities across the country comprising 58150 males and 2737 females. 

Samuel Akena, the Director of Correction Services Uganda Prisons Service noted that as per the statistics of the prison of October 2020, 51.7% of the inmates in prisons are convicted while 49.3% are on remand.  

Akena said the rise in the number of inmates on remand shot escalated during the lockdown since they couldn’t send the suspects to court. 

Sarah Langa Siu, the chief Registrar of Court decried the case backlog, which she said currently stands at 62,000 out of the 150,000 cases pending trial.

She noted that plea bargaining has proved to be the most effective intervention on reducing the case backlog in court as the ratio of convicts has increased compared to remand inmates.  

The Principal Judge, Flavian Zeija urged the prison inmates to participate in the plea bargain court sessions, saying it will help them get lesser sentences compared to a full trial.

“If you really know in conscience that you committed the crime, there is no need of you insisting to for a full trial because if you do you will be given heavier punishment compared to here at the plea-bargain where you have a say in your the sentence” said Justice Zeija.     

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