Allow prisoners to vote, lawyer tells EC

Affected. Prisoners offload election material from a truck at Rukungiri District Electoral Commission registrar’s office on May 29 last year. PHOTO BY PEREZ RUMANZI

The act of banning and denying prisoners from voting is unconstitutional, city lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde, has told the Electoral Commission (EC) and demanded that practice be reversed.
“… presented a complaint to the Electoral Commission, which is slated to complete updating of the voters register on December 11, urging it to cease and desist from the unconstitutional, unlawful and undemocratic practice of disenfranchising eligible prisoners merely through prejudice,” Mr Ssemakadde said.

He added that the Commission’s act of depriving prisoners voting rights is illegal and contravenes the rights of Ugandans.
“Since the promulgation of the 1995 Constitution, prisoners in Uganda have been subject to a blanket ban on voting in the presidential, parliamentary and local government elections. This ban, however, is not sanctioned by any law. It is rather effectuated through prejudice and a long tradition of treating all prisoners as outcasts and good-for-nothing second class citizens,” he argued.

He added: ““It violates the basic tenets of our Constitution which accords every citizen of Uganda of 18 years of age or above the right to vote. Parliament has not legislated any restrictions on the prisoner’s right to vote.”