March 3, 2024

Human rights boss decries congestion in prisons

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The chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), Ms. Mariam Wangadya, has decried congestion in prisons.

However, Speaking at a press conference in Kampala yesterday, Ms. Wangadya said her commission has been visiting different prisons across the country and found that prisoners find it difficult to sleep because of the congested facilities.

Ms. Wangadya told us, “When I went to Jinja last week, I learned that the capacity of the male prison is 300 prisoners, but at the time I left on Friday, they had over 2,600 prisoners. I went to the wards where they stay. I asked them how they turn when one side is tired, and they told me you have to first get up and then turn.”

“Remember, most of our prisons were built in the colonial era, when the population was hardly 15 million people. Today, we are at least three times that population, and everyday people commit crimes and are remanded,” she added.

Ms. Wangadya’s comments come days before the commemoration of Human Rights Day, which is slated for December 10. Ms. Wangadya called for the fast-tracking of the hearing of court cases so that the innocent are released.

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“This may be addressed partly through expanding carrying capacity and crime prevention measures, in addition to focusing on alternative modes of punishment away from traditional incarceration. The increasing prisoners’ population puts pressure on housing, sanitation, medicare, feeding, uniforms, staff numbers, and delivery of prisoners to courts,” the report reads in part.

In conclusion, this comes barely three days after the Government of Uganda-Development Partners Access to Justice report revealed that the prison population had doubled from 35,564 prisoners in the fiscal year 2013/2014 to 73,722 prisoners in 2022/2023.

 

written by @enock katamba

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