President Yoweri Museveni has presided over the pass out of 2,234 prison officers who successfully completed an 18-month training program. The new cohort comprises 200 cadet assistant superintendents, 318 principal officers, and 1,716 recruit wardens.
Their addition brings the total number of prison officers in Uganda to 14,248. The increase in the number of personnel has improved the prison officer-to-inmate ratio, reducing it to one officer for every six inmates, a notable improvement from the previous one-to-eight ratio. The United Nations recommends a ratio of one officer to three inmates.
During the commissioning ceremony over the weekend, President Museveni praised the Uganda Prison Service-UPS for its dedication to maintaining internal peace and security, implementing rehabilitation and skill-building programs, and contributing to poverty alleviation through various agricultural projects. Notably, nine of the newly commissioned officers hold engineering qualifications. President Museveni encouraged the UPS administration to leverage their skills to construct additional prison facilities, addressing the issue of overcrowding.
He emphasized that cadets with scientific expertise should receive higher recognition than their peers and urged the Commissioner General to take the lead in this regard.
Furthermore, President Museveni pledged financial support to strengthen UPS projects in agriculture and manufacturing. He stressed the importance of using locally sourced raw materials and discouraged the importation of fabrics for uniform production. “I don’t care who makes the uniforms or what, but I don’t want you to become tailors importing fabrics from elsewhere and stitching clothes, claiming you are manufacturers. You should source all necessary raw materials locally, except for silk, which we do not yet produce locally,” explained the President.
The President also announced additional security measures during the same event. He ordered the fingerprint marking of all firearms in the country’s armed forces and mandated the installation of digital number plates, citing these measures as crucial for enhancing security and reducing criminal activities.
Kahinda Otafire, the Minister for Internal Affairs, called upon the President to support UPS in acquiring more agricultural machinery to bolster the parish development model and increase cotton production for the revival of the textile industry. He also expressed concern about the growing prisoner population due to accelerated judicial processes and appealed for additional support from UPS and the police to keep pace with the judiciary.
Otafire discussed plans to revise the operational framework for all armed forces, differentiating them from traditional civil servants, and addressing issues of discipline and conduct. “As teachers hold chalk, doctors hold stereoscopes, police, UPS officers, and the like hold arms. We cannot continue treating them in the same way, these are not traditional civil servants. Now a police officer can go away and you cannot charge him with desertion. How do you deal with commandant control of a person dealing with national security, but guided by traditional civil service? The same will go for immigration officers because this is our first line of defense we are coming up with papers to review these people’s conduct,” Otafire said.
Johnson Byabashaijja, the Commissioner General of Uganda Prison Services-UPS, highlighted the significant milestone of having 14,248 officers in the service, compared to the 9,000 officers it had five years ago. Currently, UPS houses 75,340 inmates, with 52 percent being convicts and 48 percent on remand. Byabashaijja acknowledged improvements in justice delivery and emphasized the need to further reduce the number of remanded inmates. He also mentioned UPS’s engineering team’s efforts to construct new facilities to alleviate prison cell congestion, with a goal of reducing it to 25 percent by the end of the fiscal year.
In line with the national security strategy, Byabashaijja revealed UPS’s acquisition of 35,000 acres of land, with a pending receipt of 15,000 more acres. However, he cited a shortage of machinery as a challenge in implementing agricultural projects effectively.