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Uganda Human Rights Commission Raises Alarm Over Prison Congestion



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Ms. Mariam Wangadya, the chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), has expressed deep concern over the overcrowded conditions in prisons. During a press conference held in Kampala yesterday, Ms. Wangadya revealed that her commission, during visits to various prisons across the country, discovered that inmates are struggling to sleep due to the congested facilities.

Highlighting a recent visit to Jinja, Ms. Wangadya disclosed that the male prison, designed to accommodate 300 prisoners, was holding over 2,600 inmates at the time of her departure last Friday. She shared insights gained from interactions with prisoners, noting that the overcrowding has become so severe that individuals need to physically get up before turning due to limited space.

Ms. Wangadya’s remarks precede the upcoming Human Rights Day commemoration scheduled for December 10. Urging the acceleration of court case hearings to expedite the release of the innocent, she called upon the government to construct additional detention facilities.

She emphasized that many existing prisons were constructed during the colonial era when the population was significantly lower. With the current population being at least three times larger and crime rates continuing to rise, the need for new facilities is critical.

The concerns raised by Ms. Wangadya align with recent findings from the Government of Uganda-Development Partners Access to Justice report, which revealed a doubling of the prison population from 35,564 prisoners in the financial year 2013/2014 to 73,722 prisoners in 2022/2023.

The report suggests addressing this issue by expanding carrying capacity, implementing crime prevention measures, and exploring alternative modes of punishment beyond traditional incarceration. The escalating prisoner population is placing strain on housing, sanitation, healthcare, feeding, uniforms, staff numbers, and the transportation of prisoners to court, according to the report.

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