In the past, abuse perpetrated by warders against prisoners has been common in jails around the country.
According to the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHCR), there were 21 cases reported in 1997, but the number had grown to 314 by 2008.
This led the UHCR and Uganda Prisoners Aid Foundation (UPAF) to lobby intensely for proper respect of prisoners’ rights.
On several occasions, the opposition parties have accused prison services of torturing their supporters while in their custody, something that has put the image of the prison at stake.
Recently, there was report of torture of the National Unity Platform (NUP) supporters who were incarcerated at Kitalya government prison over various offences, an allegation that was refuted by the Prisons.
Speaking during NBS’s Spotlight Show on Monday,the Commissioner-General of Uganda Prisons Services, Dr Johnson Byabashaija said that the nine months of basic training their officers go through transform them into different people, therefore the allegations of torture is untrue and unfounded.
“Torture is a criminal offence. If any of our officers commits an offence, we charge them and punish them. We are very thorough on discipline,” he said.
On allegation of poisoning prisoners, Byabashaija said that it is not possible in the prison given the nature of their setting where they don’t allow cooked food to come into the prison but they allow prisoners to cook their own food.
On the welfare of their staff, Byabashaija said that most of their staff still live-in makeshift houses.
“We have sorted just 40% [of our housing needs] and hopefully that in about 5 years we will have sorted out about 20% more. We also have a challenge of congestion but you look at this from the criminal justice system of Uganda and the time the police take to do their investigations,” he said.