Uganda: Over 411 Offenders Freed Over Coronavirus Threat

30 September 2020

Government has released 411 petty offenders in Kampala.

According to the list seen by Daily Monitor, the offenders will only do community service in the Kampala Extra Region, which covers Wakiso and Mukono districts.

They were released yesterday from different courts in Kampala Metropolitan region at Makindye, Nakawa, City Hall, Entebbe, Kasangati, Mukono and Kajjansi.

This brings the cumulative total to 2,631 petty offenders countrywide, who have been released.

Following the lockdown and rising number of Covid-19 cases in the country, the President directed the release of petty offenders in order to decongest prison facilities in order to minimise the prevalence of the pandemic.

However, Mr Frank Baine, the Uganda Prisons Service spokesperson, said not all petty offenders will be released.

He said only petty offenders who do not endanger society such as those held on charges of idle and disorderly conduct and rogue and vagabond behaviour are being released.

Mr Baine said offenders such as thieves will not be released under this scheme because they will be a danger to the community.

The prisoners released are part of more than 1,000 names that Uganda Prisons Service proposed to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions for release.

"The prison population is still 61,000 and it's still high but the process of decongesting prisoners is entirely the work of Judiciary, office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Directorate of Community Service at Internal Affairs and other stakeholders," Mr Baine said.

The Director of Community Service at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Mr Paul Kintu, said they have been working with other government agencies to make sure petty offenders are released and rehabilitated well.

"As the directorate, we emphasise non-custodial punishment, where prisoners are sent back to the community and ordered to do unpaid work in some places, especially government institutions. In the directorate, we have the department of social reintegration where we support offenders to become better people and reform in future," Mr Kintu said.

He said since March, the directorate has identified 384 offenders in the central region to be released for community service, 90 in Hoima, 67 in Luweero, 99 in Masaka, 30 in Lukaya, 21 in Kalisizo and 38 in Butenga.

Others include four in Sembabule, 41 in Mubende, 162 in Masindi, 162 in Mpigi and 101 in Kamuli District.

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