By Nasser Kasozi Akandwanaho
Uganda Prisons Service wants a supplementary budget worth Shs11.7bn to purchase prisoners’ beddings and fulfill contractual obligations on the construction and equipment of Kitalya mini-maximum prison.
The supplementary request was made by Samuel Emiku, Under Secretary Prisons while appearing before Parliament’s Budget Committee where he explained that of the budget requirement, Shs3.4bn will go towards fulfilling outstanding contractual obligations to construct the prison, while Shs693Million will be spent on installation of a baggage scanner at Kitalya .
Emiku also said that prisons requires Shs7.1bn to purchase 71,709 prisoners a pair of blankets each, with each blanket expected to cost Shs50,000. He defended the expenditure saying that beddings like clothing, feeding and shelter are basic human necessities for prisoners and therefore each prisoner is entitled to a pair of blankets and a mattress.
He said over time, they have been faulted for not providing prisoners with beddings.
“Each prisoner is entitled to a pair of blankets and a standard mattress,” he said.
Over time, the Uganda Human Rights Commission has been faulting Prisons for not providing beddings to prisoners and recommend that Prisons be availed with adequate resources to ensure that inmates are provided with beddings. Non provision of beddings is a violation of prisons rights.
However, the MPs raised doubt on expenditure on feeding staff camped in prisons, an expenditure Johnson Byabashaija, Commissioner General of Uganda Prisons Services defended saying that the Services had to feed staff as a measure to contain the spread of COVID-19 between inmates and staff.
“We couldn’t allow staff to go back to the families when we are protecting inmates inside the prison. We didn’t allow any prisoner to be admitted in Luzira during Covid. That is why I only had a mortality of four prisoners. People escaped Covid because we concentrated on 83 isolation centers,” he said.
Byabashiaja also warned Parliament of the Shs3Bn shortfall in the budget to meet the contractual obligation of the construction of Kitalya Prisons saying if this money isn’t availed, the country is likely to pay fine for failure to fulfill these obligations.