Inmates remanded for 72 months without trial

An audit report on the situation in Uganda’s prisons has revealed that there are prisoners who have never appeared before a judge six years after they were set on remand.

According to the Auditor General’s report that is before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the prisons are filled with 9,845 prisoners who were committed to the High Court but of these, 46 have been on remand for more than 72 months (six years).

Another 3,042 inmates have been on remand for a period ranging between 13 and 24 months.

Those jailed for committing petty crimes are 13,788 of whom, 10,285 having been on remand for more than a year.

The report also shows that prisons are over congested with the current numbers showing an excess of 33,383 inmates.

Uganda Prisons Service had planned to provide for a total of 16,517 prisoners everyday but at the time of the audit, the prisons had 49,900 inmates as at August 30, 2017 which puts the occupancy level of the prison facilities at 260%.

“Most of the prison wards are overcrowded, with some having been found housing up to at least four times their designed holding capacities,” the report states.

The overcrowding in prisons has as such resulted into poor hygiene, outbreak of diseases and strikes in prisons as the prisoners continue to compete for little resources.

Under the Justice Law and Order Sector’s (JLOS) Strategic Investment Plan III, Uganda Prisons Service committed to have inmates to have better access to justice and lives in a safer and secure environment and more responsive to human tights and reduce the length of stay on remand from 30.3months to 15.1 month for capital offences and from 6 to 4.4 months for other offences

However, a review of prisons records showed that 4,598 prisoners each being fed at Shs 3000 per day have been on remand for more than two years that saw Government spending Shs 5.1bn.

The Auditor General John Muwanga warned that having inmates on remand for more than two years without trial is a violation of prisoners’ rights to trial which denies them timely justice which results into wastage of resources.