The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) has launched a campaign to decongest Government Prisons in Greater Bushenyi.
The campaign that will cost over 1.5 billion shillings was launched on Thursday in Bushenyi – Ishaka Municipality as regional offices of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative were opened.
The Greater Bushenyi which is made up of five districts; Sheema, Buhweju, Mitooma Rubirizi and Bushenyi has four government prisons with over five thousand inmates .
Dr. Livingstone Sewanyana, the executive director of FHRI said that greater Bushenyi was ranked among the districts with high crime rate which contributed to overcrowding in the prisons. He says due to the limited judicial officers in the area most of the suspects incarcerated are denied the right to quick trial.
Sewanyana said the campaign will try to reduce pre-trial detention and decongest the prisons by offering free holistic legal services to poor and vulnerable suspects and inmates and also sensitize communities to avert crimes.
Sewanyana says during their assessment they learnt that most offenders in the region had committed petty offenses like stealing Matooke and assault which needed quick justice, but also the capital offences according to crime statistics robbery with violence and murder were high which prompted them to come in and avert the situation.
The Bushenyi District Chairperson Jaffari Basajjabalaba blamed the congestion in prisons on the government which has failed to provide enough funding to the Justice and Law sectors. He says the funds given to Police, Prisons and courts to carry out their mandate in the administration of justice are too little. Basajjabalaba says that most people of Bushenyi cannot afford the litigation cost because it is very expensive.
Henry Kidega, the Officer in Charge of Nyamushekyera said that the prison that was built during the pre-independence years accommodates 1321 inmates instead of 320. He said they used to have Paralegal services that had assisted with decongesting but since it phased out due to lack of funds the numbers have increased.
Martial Tumusiime, the Greater Bushenyi Region Police Spokesperson said that since the lifting of the Covid-19 lockdown, crimes have increased noting that they almost registered five cases of murder in a week and most of those killed are always from bars.