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New Vision
Uganda: African Prison Chiefs Meet in Kampala
<p>Petride Mudoola</p>
October 2, 2012

Prison chiefs from all over Africa will today hold a conference to discuss congestion and human rights in prisons.

The commissioner general of Uganda Prisons, Dr. Johnson Byabashaija, said under their umbrella organisation, African Correctional Services Association, the prison chiefs will also address challenges facing the penal system in Africa.

"In Uganda's prisons, congestion is at 250%. Only 48% of the inmates have been convicted, 52% are on remand awaiting trial while 150% are serving long-term sentences," Byabashaija said in an interview on Sunday.

He said the prisons' structures were designed to accommodate 15,000 inmates, but they now have over 34,000, which is double the required number.

Byabashaija said the conference, which will take place at Speke Resort Munyonyo, will address other challenges like overcoming the spread of HIV/AIDS, faster dispensing of justice and adherence to international norms and standards in correctional services.

Byabashaija said the four-day conference will attract about 140 participants and is expected to harmonise standards of dealing with offenders in terms of practice and the appropriate management of prisoners.

He said prisoners should either be released or sentenced.

He blamed the criminal justice systems for not disposing of cases in time, thus congesting the prisons.