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Prison services reinstate ban on visits to jail centres

Prison spokesperson Frank Baine confirmed report. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | As Covid-19 cases surge, Uganda Prisons Services has reinstated the ban on visits to all detention centres in a bid control the spread of the contagious disease. Soon after Uganda declared her first Covid-19 case in March last year, UPS banned visits to all its prison facilities.

The ban was lifted early this year and members of the public could be allowed to access their relatives in jail provided they possessed negative Covid-19 certificates. However, in a meeting called by Dr Johnson Byabashaija, the commissioner general of prisons, prison commanders were ordered to ensure that no person from outside gets in contact with any of the inmates.

Prison spokesperson Frank Baine has officially communicated the latest position purposely to alert members of the public whose persons are being jailed in various gazetted prison centres.

Baine said the communication is intended to make the public aware so that they are not bounced when they go to visit inmates. Baine said with effect from today, no person will be allowed to meet any prisoner or suspects on remand regardless of his or her status.

“All visitations to prisons are suspended with immediate effect. We are going back to our earlier restrictions because Covid-19 cases are increasing so fast. Whether you are vaccinated or you have Covid-19 negative results, you will not be allowed to access prisoners,” Baine said.

President Yoweri Museveni last week imposed a 42 days closure of education institutions, worship centres, weekly merchandise and cattle markets and a ban on inter-district travel. Baine said UPS can only change its position if the ministry of health and Museveni make some amendments.

UPS currently has over 60,000 inmates. Of these, only 1,132 have contracted Covid-19 even though active cases stand at 47. Gulu prison isolation and treatment centre has the highest number of cases with 40, Jinja and Mbarara have four and three positive cases respectively.

In response to Chief Justice Alfonse Owinyi Dollo’s new Covid-19 guidelines where only urgent matters should be handled in this current lockdown, Dr Byabashaija has said prisoners who must appear physically in courts will be brought only on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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