"My Lord I have been on remand for the last three years my case has never come up for hearing."
PIC: An inmate airs out his thoughts during their meeting with the visiting Supreme Court judge Justice Augustine Nshimye
KASESE - Inmates at Mubuku Prison Farm in Kasese district have decried the long remand period without trial, saying this violates their human rights.
They voiced out their concerns to the Supreme Court judge Justice Augustine Nshimye during his visit to the incarceration facility.
Some said they have spent many years on remand yet charged with petty offences.
Masumbuko Abdul, charged with theft, said that he has been on remand for the last three years and that whenever he appears in court, his case is always adjourned. He was denied bail, he added.
Other inmates complained that whenever they appear in court, the judicial officers do not show up and as a result, they are forced to keep behind bars for a long time without trial.
Kalali Ronald, the officer in charge at the facility, said most of the inmates at the prison are petty offenders who can even be given bail in order to decongest the facility.
On his part, Justice Nshimye, who is also the chief inspector of prisons, said most judicial officers still perform below their targets because of corruption, late coming for work and absent from duty without genuine reasons.
Justice Augustine Nshimye (middle) touring Mubuku Prison Farm. (Credit: Wilson Asiimwe)
The Judicial Service Commission has put in place measures aimed at checking the rampant cases of absenteeism and late coming for work by judicial officers, he added.
Nshimye also warned corrupt judicial officers who ask for money before determination of cases that they risk being dismissed and prosecuted.
"We have established registers at every court to record the time when these judicial officers arrive for work and when do they leave work.”
He said Chief Justice Bart Katureebe had also set targets for each judicial officer as one way of checking the case backlog.
A chief magistrate is expected to handle 600 cases a year, while grade one magistrates who have served for more than two years are expected to handle 400 cases and grade two magistrates 300 cases.
The judge urged the public to ensure that the money they use for bail is refunded.
"These judicial officers should ensure that people get back their bail money upon presentation of receipts.”
Tadeo Asiimwe, a court inspector, said they are on a nationwide tour to assess the condition of prison facilities and interact with the prisoners to get their views on especially the judicial sector.
"Most of these prison facilities were constructed very many years ago when the population of Uganda was still low, but now with the population shooting up and high crime rate, these prisons can no longer handle the inmates.”