Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda Human Rights Commission – UHRC has noted with concern the appalling conditions of children imprisoned alongside their mothers in prison facilities across districts in Acholi and Lango sub regions.
The Commission cites awful conditions that the children are enduring including congestion in the prison facilities, poor feeding, unwanted manners and unpleasant prison environment.
The Commission has been conducting a week-long human rights and accountability activism tour in the region to monitor and advance human rights in line with its mandate as enshrined in Article 51 of the 1995 Constitution,
The exercise was conducted under Tier III of the Democratic Governance Facility – GDF on protection of human rights, access to justice and gender equality. It aimed at providing opportunities for redress mechanism to enhance citizen’s access to justice.
Nicholas Ogwang, the Commission’s Regional Human Rights Officer in Gulu disclosed to URN that the children of imprisoned mothers are highly vulnerable group with appalling rights and welfare.
Though he didn’t provide statistics regarding the number of such children, Ogwang revealed that some prison facilities are stuck with overgrown children who are set for home resettlement with their relatives.
In Uganda, the law permits children under the age of eighteen months to be with their mothers in prison. It also requires such an infant to be placed with a relative or family friend willing and able to provide support the infant after reaching the age of 18 months.
When contacted, Dr. Johnson Byabashaija, the Commissioner General of Uganda Prisons admitted that some children in prison facilities are overgrown and blamed their mothers who are unwilling to release them for resettlement.
Dr. Byabashaija explained prison authorities are planning to extend children’s day care facilities which already exists in Western, Central and Eastern Uganda to the Northern region in order to uphold the rights of children.
Currently, there are 59,300 prisoners across the Uganda prison system out of whom 47.2% are on remand while 52.8% are convicts.
However, Dr. Byabashija didn’t disclose how many female inmates are incarcerated alongside their babies.