21 June 2012 :The Uganda Prisons Services (UPS) has opposed the death penalty, saying the purpose of prisons is to rehabilitate wrong-doers, and not kill them.
"We are challenging the issue of death penalty," UPS spokesperson, Frank Baine said at the Uganda Human Rights Commission two-day Forum to promote the rights of detainees held at Imperial Royale Hotel that started June 20.
Baine said prisons are for rehabilitating and not hanging prisoners. "Our mandate is to have safe custody which is humane. We reform and re-integrate, not hanging."
"Prisoners are part of our family. By the time you hang, it is like you are hanging your own," he said.
The UPS spokesman said hanging prisoners traumatizes both staff and inmates and he pointed out that although death penalty is a constitutional matter, they are advocating for its change.
Currently there are 473 people on death row.
The interface that ends today is also intended to popularize the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act, 2012.
In his presentation on the "Condition of inmates in prisons: Achievements, challenges and recommendations" the Commissioner Custodial Services of UPS, Augustine Obura revealed that there are 242 prisoners on life imprisonment.
Another 10 are serving imprisonment for life, 266 between 20 to 30 years, 19 serving between 31 to 40 years, 24 between 41 to 50 years, one serving between 51 to 60 years and three prisoners serving between 61 to 70 years.
He cited specific instances of human rights violations arising from lack of basic provisions such as high prison congestion, prisons not complying with recommended standards, high remand population, dilapidated prisons, and more.
Obura revealed that 154 out of 226 prison units still use the bucket system, where prisoners merely use buckets to ease themselves.
He urged the judiciary to introduce judicial parole, a system where a prisoner who is remaining with a certain period of his sentence is released on condition of good discipline.
He revealed that a prisons client charter was being formulated and once completed, it would inform the public of the obligations of the Uganda Prisons Services towards them and would also make the body accountable to the public so as to reduce incidences of human rights violations.
The Director Monitoring and Inspections UHRC, Roselyn Karugonjo, Segawa gave an overview of the commission findings in places of detention in Uganda.
She urged UPS, ministry of internal affairs, Uganda Police Force and the director of public prosecution (DPP) to urgently release suspects being detained without files or charges.
However, the DPP Richard Butera wanted to know where this occurs.
Among the findings Karugonjo pointed out was that suspects in military detention facilities take months before being brought to court.
Army Spokesman, Col. Felix Kulayigye said the number of inmates in military detention centres had reduced following a Constitutional Court Ruling that stopped them from trying non-combatants.