Amuru. Uganda Prisons Services officials have not arraigned inmates before court to face charges against them for more than two months, judicial officials have revealed.
Because Nwoya District has no court, inmates are taken to Gulu High Court for trial but Prisons officials say they do not have fuel to transport the offenders.
Violation of rights
The Nwoya Grade One Magistrate, Ms Suzan Anyeko, said this has made her redundant.
“For the last two months I have not seen any inmates from the government prison arraigned before me. I have endlessly been in touch with prison officials but no feedback has been given,” she said.
Ms Anyeko said the right of the inmates to access fair and speedy trial is being violated by prisons officials.
She made the remarks during a dialogue meeting convened by the Justice Law and Order Sector [JLOS] publicity committee at the Gulu High Court Circuit on Friday.
More than 150 inmates who face trial from Nwoya Magistrate Court are on remand at Gulu Central Prison.
Responding to the allegations, Mr Frank Baine, the prisons spokesperson, said the district transporting inmates to attend court sessions for a distance of about 68km is very costly.
“We did not have any option but to have the inmates stay at the facility because we can’t afford to foot the fuel bills for transporting the inmates every week to attend court. How can we take the inmates to the district yet there is no proper detention facility?” he questioned. Mr Nicholas Ogwang from the Uganda Human rights Commission [UHRC] said rights of inmates are still being violated in regards to being represented timely in courts by prison officials.
Mr Ogwang said their investigation revealed that two inmates at a government prison in Kitgum District have not been arraigned before court for the past two years.
“Prison and judicial officials need to ensure that inmates are ably presented in courts of law for them to access justice,” Mr Ogwang said.
Meanwhile inmates at a government prison in Amuru risk contracting water borne diseases due to lack of clean water sources at the facility, a judicial official has reported.
More than 50 inmates at Kaladima Prison in Lamogi Sub-county have reportedly resorted to fetching water from spring wells.
The Amuru Grade One Magistrate, Mr Joseph Angole, said Kaladima is the only prison in the district that lacks a borehole and tap water.
“Inmates are drinking unsafe water from wells. I pray that there shouldn’t be an outbreak of cholera because the water these inmates drink is very dirty,” Mr Angole said.
About the dialogue
The meeting aimed at understanding the state of prisons in the region and how the judiciary are dispensing justice. It was attended by representatives from Uganda Prisons services, Police, Judicial officials, Directorate of Public Prosecution [DPP] and human rights officials among others.