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Blame. MPs attribute overcrowding to low government funding
As a result of congestion in the country’s 247 jails, more than half of the prison population (about 28,000 prisoners) spends the night standing.
This state of prisons highlights what the lawmakers yesterday called a crisis in the criminal justice system as authorities blame “perennial underfunding”.
MPs on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) heard that of 45,092 prisoners in the country, 28,575 are not accommodated, thus increasing the risks of prisoner escape, poor hygiene, diseases and rampant strikes.
The 2014 Attorney General report, the subject of PAC discussion, found that five prisons had occupancy rate of above 500 per cent (Kisoro 906 per cent, Ntungamo 720 per cent, Kabale 651 per cent, Rukungiri 530 per cent and Gulu 508 per cent.
“It’s a shame that we have prisoners who sleep while standing because of the congestion in prisons,” said Ms Alice Alaso, the PAC chairperson. “This violation of human rights must stop.”
In June 2014, the AG found that inmate populations had risen to 41,516 prisoners. The housing capacity was at 16,040 prisoners.
However, information provided yesterday by Mr Simon Kimono, the accounting officer in the prisons department, shows that the number of prisoners has since increased to 45,092 with a housing capacity of 16,517, meaning 28,575 are not catered for.
Mr Kimono said: “Feeding and dressing is the prisoners’ right yet we don’t receive the money we budget for and I cannot make prisoners walk naked; some of these things are beyond my control.”
Although the required annual prisoner’s food budget for the next financial year is Shs50 billion, Mr Kimono said the ministry of Finance only provided Shs23 billion.