Thursday August 21 2014

3 inmates awarded law diplomas

L-R: Commissioner of Prisons Johnson

L-R: Commissioner of Prisons Johnson Byabashaija and Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine join graduates Mr Moses Lwanga Ekwam, Suzan Kigula, Pascal Kakuru and Benjamin Kamugisha to cut a cake at their graduation ceremony in Luzira prison on Tuesday. Photo by Rachel Mabala 

By Ephraim Kasozi

Although they were convicted and jailed for disobeying the law, three Luzira inmates were not deterred from pursuing a career in the same field.

Prisoners Susan Natoolo commonly known as Susan Kigula, Pascal Kakuru and Benjamin Kamugisha were awarded a diploma in common law at a convocation at Luzira prison on Tuesday.
The trio, jointly with a serving junior army officer, Private Moses Lwanga Ekwam, who was exonerated on appeal, was admitted to the University of London International after completing A-Level from Luzira inmates Secondary School.

The university, in partnership with a charity organisation, African Prisons Project, offered the course to create positive transformation.
In a statement, the inmates described the graduation as a landmark in the country’s stride to uphold fundamental human rights.

“There are a number of challenges in the justice system and we sometimes feel we are not effectively represented as a result of miscarriage of justice,” Ms Kigula said.

She attributed the success of the education programme to an open door policy by prison authorities, hard labour and sacrifice amidst challenges.

“We are now able to offer legal counselling to fellow inmates and other legal assistance so that they appreciate the law,” Ms Kigula added.
Dr Johnson Byabashaija, the Commissioner General of Prisons, said education is one of the rehabilitation strategies to help prisoners get skills and knowledge that can help them avoid illegalities.

“Once a person has studied, their minds change completely and given the skills, these people cannot think of indulging in illegal acts,” Dr Byabashaija said.
Prof Jenny Hamilton, the director in charge of Undergraduate Laws Programme at the University of London, said the institution offers programmes in African prisons.

“Despite the difficult circumstances and lack of resources, these students have demonstrated tremendous determination,” Prof Hamilton said.

Principal Judge Yorakamu Bamwine urged the graduates to utilise the chance to rebuild themselves. “There have been complaints of excessive imprisonment sentences, overcrowding and remission, but many of these are being addressed through initiatives like pre-bargaining, sentencing guidelines. These will reduce the time a prisoner spends in custody,” he said.