Thursday August 8 2013

Ugandan jails most crowded in East Africa - new report

Church of Uganda Archbishop Stanley Ntagali prays for inmates at Luzira Upper Prison recently.

Church of Uganda Archbishop Stanley Ntagali prays for inmates at Luzira Upper Prison recently. Most prisons in the country are overcrowded. PHOTO BY EPHRAIM KASOZI. 



Uganda is ninth among the top 10 countries with most overcrowded prisons in the world, according to a report by the International Centre for Prison Studies.

The position makes Uganda prisons, which have more than 38,000 inmates instead of the recommended 15,000, the most congested in the East African region. According to the report, which was released on Monday, top on the list is Haiti where prisoners are reportedly rarely given recreational time from their group cells.

Each prisoner eats, sleeps and lives in about the space of one-quarter of a twin bed. “Part of the overcrowding might be due to the legal system in the poverty-stricken nation. Eighty to 90 per cent of those incarcerated are still waiting for their trials, since bail is not an option,” reads the report.

Second on the list is El Salvador and Benin is third. Other countries on the list include: Philippines, Venezuela, Bolivia, Sudan, Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala.

Mr Frank Baine, the Uganda Prison Service public relations officer, said he was not aware of the study. He, however, said: “Compared to our neighbours, we have fewer inmates. However, in terms of space, we are doing very bad and this needs urgent provision of infrastructures.”

According to Mr Baine, congestion in prisons calls for implementation of alternative sentences, expansion of prison structures as well as construction of new ones.

According to the World Health Organisation, out of the about nine million people detained in penal institutions around the world, at least half of them exhibit symptoms of personality disorders while about one million prisoners suffer from serious mental disorders.