Deputy Chief Justice Calls for Action on Prison Congestion in Uganda

KAMPALA, (UG)-The Assistant Commissioner General of Prisons, Samuel Akena has said that congestion in Ugandan prisons is the major problem depriving prisoners of their human rights.

Speaking at a high-level multi-stakeholder national public dialogue held in Kampala in commemoration of the 75-year-old Universal Declaration of Human Rights and access to justice for women, Akena attributed the glaring congestion in all prisons to remands.

According to him, as of yesterday, there were 77,089 prisoners in the 266 prisons, whereas the prisons can only accommodate 20,000 prisoners. He described this situation as difficult to deal with.He said that sometimes, people who fail to pay loans are taken to prison which is costly for the prison.He revealed that out of the 77,089 prisoners, 39,784 are convicted while 36,786 are on remand.

While giving a keynote address, the Deputy Chief Justice, Justice Richard Buteera said a lot has to be done in the field of human rights protection, and promotion.Justice Batera also attributed congestion in prisons to an increase in reported cases by the community and bail not being a constitutional right.

He stressed the need for sensitizing the judicial officers and giving them skills of legal interpretation so that they exercise their discretion judiciously to grant bail. He encouraged them to visit prisons and talk to the prisoners to appreciate the problem of congestion.