European Ambassador urges authorities pardon prisoners

By Deo Wasswa

Uganda Prisons Service commissioner general, Dr Johnson Byabashaija says the prison has so far vaccinated 4176 both staff and inmates who support staff in different offices for COVID-19.

According to him, the institution registered over 1074 cases of COVID-19 but many of them have recovered with only one death.

Byabashaija who was speaking at an event where the European Union and Panel Reform International donated personal protective equipment and sanitary materials worth one billion Uganda shillings to Uganda Prison Services to maintain the fight against corona virus, noted that the number of prisoners in Uganda has risen from 59,000 to 65,000 in five months, leading to congestion.

He also denied accusations by International Human Rights organizations’ recent reports released saying that Uganda prison service is abusing the rights of inmates by hiding them from being accessed by their relatives.

Byabasaija noted that the prison cannot do such dubious things, “what we did is to transfer some of inmates to Kitalya prison as a way of decongesting Luzira prison during the time when corona virus was at its peak’’.

In his remarks, the European ambassador in Uganda H.E Atilio Pacifici urged Uganda Prison Service to think of decongesting prisons by pardoning those with less than three years to complete their jail term.

He noted that though President Museveni pardoned some inmates at the beginning of lock down, the number was too small.

Pacifici, who urged the heads of prison to put the PPEs to good use, also cautioned Ugandans not to relax the ministry of health’s SOPs against the spread of COVID-19 due to availability of Vaccines.

Uganda Prisons services staff receive COVAX

By Robert Segawa

The Uganda Prisons have today launched an exercise for immunization of all the prison personnel all over the country against COVIDF-19.

The launch was conducted at the Prisons Service headquarters along Parliamentary Avenue in Kampala by the Commissioner General of Prisons, Dr.Johnson Byabashaija who was also the first person to take the COVAX jab.

Dr Johnson Byabashaija revealed that the immunization exercise is intended to protect Prisons personnel against COVID-19 and he also revealed that the prisons authorities will no longer allow visitors to see inmates before they present evidence that they were immunized against COVID-19 or tested negative for COVID-19.

Dr Johnson Byabashaija also assured the public that the Astrazeneca Vaccine is safe and that’s why he was the first to take the jab on behalf of the Prisons staff.

Dr James Kisambu the Assistant Commissioner of Prisons in charge Health services in the Prisons Service revealed that they received 10,000 dozes of Astrazeneca Vaccine which is going to be used in immunizing the Prisons personnel against COVID-19 in the first round of the immunization exercise.

Dr John Bosco Tumwebaze the Commissioner for Health Services in the Uganda Prisons Service revealed that they have so far registered a total of 1045 COVID-19 cases in their various prisons around the country, adding that they currently have only 16 cases.

Ugandans urged to screen housemaids for crime before employment

Dr. Fred Yiga, the Police Director Interpol and Peace Support Operations has asked Ugandans to get their house maids screened for crimes before employing them.

Dr. Yiga says that that one of the mandates of Interpol, apart from ensuring international and regional cooperation in the fight against trans-national crime, is to reduce domestic crimes in the country.

Dr Yiga was on Sunday speaking on the sidelines of the regional police meeting at Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort.

He urges Ugandans who intend to secure the services of house maids, or home workers, to approach his directorate to do a thorough criminal screening about them.

This is aimed at ensuring the households are kept in the know what criminal records the maids they plan to employ have. Dr. Yiga says it reduces risks of trusting one’s home and children with maids whose backgrounds they hardly know. The services according to Dr. Yiga are available at a fee of between 50,000 and 60,000 Shillings.

Dr. Yiga says Uganda Police has a criminal database which entails fingerprints of every person that has ever been held as a suspect or criminally charged by police across the country.

He said that once a person brings the intended employees for vetting, police crosschecks with their database and advises the employer accordingly. Dr. Yiga notes that this builds confidence among house maids, or domestic workers in general, to work with one heart once they know police has their details.

Dr. Yiga appealed to Ugandan youth who are yearning for employment abroad to always go through Uganda Police to be able to guide them on genuine companies that handle the businesses. He notes that once Interpol Uganda is used, it becomes easy to also link with other countries through the same organisation.

In 2014, Jolly Tumuhiirwe,   a house maid was sentenced to four years in jail after she was captured on video surveillance camera footage torturing a toddler who was one-and-half-years at the time.

Last month, Tumuhiirwe was released about two years and eight months into her four-year sentence. The Uganda Prisons officials said her sentence attracted remission, a reduced verdict considered for disciplined and hardworking inmates.




Prisons still have a long way to go to eliminate the soil bucket system

Uganda Prisons Services has eliminated the soil bucket system from 58 prison facilities to only 9 last years, URN has learnt. The soil bucket system is where inmates ease themselves in buckets in their cells due to lack of toilet facilities.

The Uganda Prison Service, spokesperson Frank Baine, says they are working on total elimination of the soil bucket system from the remaining 9 prison facilities, saying the method is degrading and unhygienic.

Baine says they have already procured materials to put up toilets in the nine facilities and expects the work to be finalized in December this year. He says they have channeled the money for the construction of the toilets directly to the officers in charge of the affected prisons so as to expedite the process.

A former inmate, who spoke to URN on conditions of anonymity, says some inmates use the buckets to bully and punish new comers to their cells, adding that a complete elimination of the system would change the experiences in prisons.

In the past, Uganda Human Rights Commission recommended the complete elimination of the soil bucket, saying it is degrading.