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Prisoners decry justice system, prison conditions


Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga handed over several gifts on her visits to Bufulubi, Jinja main, Luzira and Kigo prisons. PHOTO UGANDA PARLIAMENT

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Inmates have decried the poor prison conditions and justice system that has unfairly kept many of them in jail.

The inmates, complained about poor feeding, health facilities, congestion, denial of the right to vote, delayed appeals in court and an unfair criminal justice system.

They raised the concerns to the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, during her visits to Bufulubi, Jinja main, Luzira and Kigo prisons on Saturday, 22 December 2018.

Kadaga visited and presented Christmas gifts to the prisoners.

In Murchison Bay Prison, Luzira, Moses Abehikye, the inmates’ representative said that prisoners need to be given a chance to vote, a right accorded by the Constitution. He said Parliament has been silent about the denied constitutional right.

“Inmates who are Ugandans remain citizens even when they are convicted; they should be accorded the right to vote,” he said.

“We also want the Speaker to plead with the President over the prerogative of mercy for the elderly inmates. By the time they grow old they have been corrected,” he added.

In Kigo Prison, Tom Kawalya, the head of prisoners, said that many criminal investigations of cases and arrests are not conducted well and thoroughly.

“Many times when police arrest you and find out you are innocent, they work with the complainant and fabricate a case against you,” he said.

Kawalya said that this usually happens with defilement and rape allegations, which usually arise out of misunderstandings over property and land amongst relatives.

He noted that torturing and threatening of suspects is still common with police forcing people to give false evidence.

“Police does not properly investigate cases; a police officer will come to court and testify over something they have no idea about,” said Kawalya.

Robert Naimuli, the head of Kigo Prisons, complained of the delay in responses to appeals filed by prisoners, saying that many times, prisoners serve their sentences and are released before their appeals are disposed of.

He added that most of the inmates are in their productive age and suggested that they are given short sentences and leave prison.

The head of Women Section in Kigo, Juliet Kabami, said that the wing needs a day care centre and maternity clinic, because female inmates have to move long distances to access a health centre with good facilities.

The Speaker noted the complaints raised and promised to come up with solutions to them.

“Parliament took a resolution of increasing the pay [to inmates] when working out of the prisons; we also asked the government to increase the judges to respond to all the appeals and cases. We will look into the length of sentences given to young and very old people so that they are reduced,” she said.

Kadaga also promised to ask the House Committee on Human Rights to examine issues that affect prisoners in Uganda.

She also promised to talk to the President about the prerogative of mercy to decongest the prisons and to create a maternity clinic in all women’s sections to attend to expectant mothers.

Speaker Kadaga presented an assortment of gifts to the inmates ranging from kitchenware to bathroom accessories and food items.

“I am part of the All Saints Cathedral Church, Nakasero and we are encouraged to bless a prisoner each year. This Christmas season I decided to visit you to put a smile on your faces,” she said.



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