22 June 2012

Uganda: Prisons Wants Over 1,000 Prisoners Pardoned

Photo: Petride Mudoola/New Vision
Among those who qualify for the pardon are breastfeeding mothers.

Uganda Prison Services (UPS) has this year submitted a list of over 1,000 prisoners who qualify to benefit from the presidential pardon, its spokesperson, Frank Baine has revealed.

He said that the Commissioner General forwarded the list to the Attorney General (AG) through the ministry of internal affairs at the end of last month.

The AG is the chairperson of the Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy.

Baine made the revelation on Thursday at a 'Forum to promote the rights of detainees' organized by Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) at Imperial Royale Hotel, Kampala. He declined to name those on the list.

Baine said those who qualify to benefit from the pardon include those on death row, minor offenders who have surpassed 50% of their sentence, pregnant women, the terminally sick, breastfeeding mothers and the elderly.

According to the Constitution, the President may on the advice of the committee, grant any person convicted of an offence a pardon either free or subject to lawful conditions.

The President may also grant a person respite, either indefinite or for a specified period, from the execution of punishment imposed on him or her for an offence.

He may also substitute a less severe form of punishment.

The Committee, according to the Constitution, consists of other six prominent Ugandan citizens appointed by the President.

The latest person to be forgiven by the President was Sharma Kooky who had been sentenced to death for killing his wife.

Others who have benefited from the presidential pardon include Chris Rwakasisi, Nasur and Ali Fadul.

Baine lambasted NGOS which go to prisons, invite the media when they are donating 'peanuts' to inmates yet their intention is to advertise themselves to attract more funding for their organisations.

He said such organizations prefer visiting prisons such as Luzira, Kigo and Kasangati and when advised to go to other prisons upcountry, they do not surface again.

He revealed that three quarters of inmates they take to Butabika hospital for treatment escape from there.

The two-day forum was also intended to popularize the law on Prevention and Prohibition of Torture.

The Director Monitoring and Inspections UHRC, Roselyn Karugonjo Segawa gave an overview of the commission findings in places of detention in Uganda.

She said that last year the commission visited 900 places of detention and the findings show overcrowding in dilapidated places, incarceration of children with adults, inadequate facilities in remand homes, and female inmates sharing facilities male inmates.

The chairman Steering Committee, Uganda Jubilee Networks, Dr. James Magara recommended that as Uganda marks 50 years of independence, government should grant more prisoners amnesty especially those with petty offences.

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