Lango prisons choke as hundreds locked up

Friday May 1 2020

A woman with a baby jumps onto a pri

A woman with a baby jumps onto a prison truck at Lira Court after being remanded to prison on April 9. FILE PHOTO  

By Monitor team

Majority of prison facilities in Lango Sub-region have reportedly run out of space for inmates due to increased number of people being locked up over violating presidential directives on Covid-19 pandemic.

By yesterday, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Uganda had shot to 81.

President Museveni while updating the nation on cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, said more than 2,000 people were in locked up for defying the measures aimed at preventing further spread of the contagious viral disease.

The prison authorities said their 16 centres in Dokolo, Otuke, Alebtong, Dokolo, Oyam, Amolatar, Kwania, Lira and Kole districts are overwhelmed.

The Mid-north regional prisons Commander, Mr Simpson Awongo, said their centres at Kwania and Alebtong prisons are crammed. Kwania government prison with a capacity of only 100 inmates is now a home to 135 inmates.

“These isolation centres were established so that suspects arrested during this period of the pandemic are not mixed with other inmates who were in the prisons before the outbreak of Covid-19,” Mr Awongo said on Friday.

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Suspected violaters of Covid-19 lockdown, who are appearing at the Grade One Magistrate’s courts in Lira, Apac and Oyam, are now being remanded or jailed for 21 days in Kwania, Alebtong and Amolatar prisons.

“When the 16 prisons in Lango Sub-region get full, we shall start exporting some of the prisoners to Kitalya government prison in Wakiso District,” Mr Awongo said.

Mr Michael Odongo, the North Kyoga regional police spokesperson, said in that in the past one week alone, more than 180 people were arrested for violating the restrictions, which run from 7pm to 6.30am.

The suspects were arraigned in court and some of them remanded to prisons. Only lactating mothers were released on court bail.
In Oyam, 32 people were convicted and sentenced to 21 days in prison for defying Covid-19 directives. They are serving their jail term at Amolatar government prison.

The convicts appeared before Anyeka Grade One Magistrate’s Court on Friday for operating bars during the curfew.

The Lira District police commander, Mr Bernard Mugerwa, said the 49 people, who were arrested by police during night patrols last week, also appeared before Lira Grade One Magistrate’s Court on Friday. Of these, 41 were remanded to Amolatar prison.

The Uganda Prisons Service recently issued a guideline restricting the public and new inmates from mixing with those who were in prisons before the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, Mr Awango said.

As a result, suspects who are being remanded over breaking the law are being isolated in other facilities within the prisons, which are now overflowing. As a result, suspects who are being remanded for allegedly breaking the law are being isolated in other facilities within the prisons, which are now full beyond capacity.

Compiled by Bill Oketch, Patrick Ebong & Charity Akullo
editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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