By Bonney Odongo
LIRA - The Commissioner General of Prisons, Dr. Johnson Byabashaija has said congestion in prison cells as a result of delay in court has resulted into spread of diseases among inmates and prisoners strikes.
Some of the diseases that have high prevalent rate among inmates in Lira are Tuberculosis (TB), skin diseases and cough.
Others have contracted HIV/Aids from some inmates who were already infected before incarceration.
“We are going to find out how much HIV and TB are in the [prison] cells and how much is being transmitted here. But I want you to avail yourself for voluntary testing so that you can be assisted,” Byabashaija told inmates at Lira government prison.
He admitted he is aware that several inmates have not had an opportunity to be produced in court after being committed.
But even so, the Prisons chief warned prisoners against staging riots, saying perpetrators would be dealt with seriously and mercilessly by the prison warders and other law enforcement entities.
“I heard that inmates pay money to some officials in order to be taken to court.
“This is injustice because people should be taken to court depending on the time they were brought to prison – not because they have paid money,” said Byabashaija.
He went on: “It is your rights to be taken to court, be given food while in prison and to sleep in a good place while serving your sentence but it is not your right to riot because if you riot, you will be beaten properly.”
Prisoners who were given an opportunity to speak out complained of delay in court, congestion in cells and poor health amongst inmates.
But in response the commissioner general said he recently had a commitment from the principal judge that the High Court proceedings would soon start.
Lira prison is currently congested with 589 male inmates, five lodgers and 78 female prisoners.
The official carrying capacity is supposed to be 189 inmates in the male wards.