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566 on death row

By Vision Reporter

Added 11th December 2006 03:00 AM

A TOTAL of 566 inmates condemned to death are being imprisoned at Luzira Prison and Kirinya Prison in Jinja.

A TOTAL of 566 inmates condemned to death are being imprisoned at Luzira Prison and Kirinya Prison in Jinja.

By Charles Ariko

A TOTAL of 566 inmates condemned to death are being imprisoned at Luzira Prison and Kirinya Prison in Jinja.

Previously, condemned inmates were kept at the tightly-guarded Upper Prison in Luzira.

However, because of congestion, some had to be transferred to Kirinya. Women inmates are held at the Women’s Prison at Luzira.

The Assistant commissioner of Prisons in-charge of prisoners, Wycliff Jack Kururagyire, yesterday said 367 of the inmates were at Luzira and 199 in Kirinya.

He named the longest serving inmate on death row as Hajji Birikade, who has been in Luzira for the last 24 years. Birikade was sentenced to death on August 17, 1982 after he was convicted for kidnap with intent to murder.

Criminal offences that attract the death sentence include treason, murder, rape, terrorism and aggravated robbery.

Once an inmate is convicted by the High Court, he/she has a right to appeal before the Supreme Court.
But once the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the country, upholds the death sentence, the inmate is kept in prison pending his/her execution.

The President, in exercise of his powers using the Prerogative of Mercy, is the only person who can set inmates free after they are condemned to death.

Before the President pardons an inmate, a Committee of Prerogative of Mercy, composed of 12 members, meets and submits the names of those seeking presidential pardon.

The Attorney General/Minister of Justice chairs the committee that is under the Ministry of Justice.

The committee is charged with the responsibility of processing a report on all the inmates seeking a presidential pardon.

The report is composed of facts of the case, the evidence adduced, the findings and a brief outline of the background of the accused. The report also indicates why the inmate should be considered for clemency.

Upon receiving the report and the names of inmates seeking pardon, the President may then exercise his right of pardoning any inmate.

The last inmate who benefited from such a presidential pardon was Abdullah Nasur, the former Central Province Governor in the late Idi Amin’s regime.

Nasur was released on September 11, 2001 after 22 years on death row. He had been convicted for the murder of a Masaka mayor in 1972.

The President also signs the death warrants for the inmates who are executed.

Prisons authorities carry out executions within 72 hours on receiving orders to do so.

The last executions at Luzira were carried out on April 27, 1999 when Hajji Musa Sebirumbi was executed along with 27 others.

Sebirumbi was a former Uganda People’s Congress chairman for Luweero South and the area National Security Agency (NASA) operative.

He was convicted for the murder of Edidian Lutamaguzi and four others who refused to disclose the whereabouts of then rebel leader Yoweri Museveni and members of his National Resistance Army (NRA) during the 1980s war against the late Milton Obote’s regime.

Condemned inmates in 2003 petitioned the Constitutional Court, saying the death penalty should be abolished.

The court, however, upheld the penalty as enshrined in the constitution but ruled against prolonged stay in prison after one is condemned to death, saying it amounted to psychological torture.

The inmates appealed against the ruling before the Supreme Court, which is yet to give its ruling.

566 on death row

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