Kampala- The Uganda Prisons Service (UPS) has listed 2,500 inmates for possible pardon under the annual presidential prerogative of mercy.
The Constitution empowers the President to pardon various categories of prisoners on advice of the prerogative of mercy committee and the Attorney General AG).
Mr Frank Baine, the Uganda Prisons publicist, said yesterday the list was submitted to the AG in July and they are waiting for a response from the President’s office.
While Mr Baine did not disclose any names on the list, prisoners pardoned under the scheme include the elderly, expectant and breastfeeding mothers and the terminally ill.
Other beneficiaries of the parole are capital offenders whose remaining sentence is less than six months as well as those on death row but have had their sentences reduced to life or permanent release.
“We submitted the list of names of different categories of prisoners who qualify for the pardon. The names were sent to the AG before a decision can be made and we are yet to get a response because the names are approved by the president,” said Mr Baine, adding that there is no time and or number limit but rather depends entirely on the president’s discretion.
The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, described the prerogative of mercy as a normal exercise by government.
“We normally release long-time prisoners who have remained with a short time to complete their punishments. We have had the committee sitting but I don’t know when they will finish the process,” Gen Otafiire said.
Mr Freddie Ruhindi, the AG, confirmed the committee is in receipt of possible beneficiaries of pardon. “Pardon is exercised by the President under deserving circumstances. The Constitution gives the President discretionary powers to approve the applications,” said Mr Ruhindi.
He said the most recent beneficiaries of the presidential pardon were seven convicts of the outlawed Female Genital Mutilation in Sebei region.
The President annually pardons prisoners although he has not done it since 2013. Ms Linda Nabusaayi, the presidential press secretary, said in a telephone interview the list has not been forwarded to the President for approval.
Museveni's past pardons
The President annually pardons prisoners although he has not done it since 2013.
In 2012, President Museveni released Sharma Kooky who was convicted of murdering his wife, Renu Joshi, after spending 12 years at Luzira Maximum Security Prisons.
Others are Brig Ali Fadhul, a former minister for provincial administration during the Idi Amin regime, who was released in 2009 after spending more than 20 years in Luzira Prison.
Former minister for Security in the Obote government, Mr Chris Rwakasisi, who was on death row for two decades was released in the same year.
Another person was Abdallah Nasur, the former Central Province Governor under the Amin’s regime (1971-1979), who was released in 2001 after spending 20 years. Nasur had been sentenced to death in 1981 for the murder of Francis Walugembe, a former mayor of Masaka.
Current prominent convicts include John Sanyu Katuramu, Teddy Seezi Cheeye, Dalton Apollo Nyangasi, Jackie Uwera Nsenga, and Tom Nkurungira alias Tonku. Others are Hussein Akbar Godi, Jolly Tumuhiirwe (maid), Lydia Draru, Kato Kajubi, Chris Mubiru, James Aurien (former Mukono DPC) and Godfrey Kazinda.