Opposition MPs visit Upcountry Courts, Prisons

Another delegation of Opposition Members of Parliament visited Eastern Uganda to establish the state and welfare of courts and prisons

The Prime Minister of Uganda Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda has requested the East African Communications Congress to forge ways to deal with cyber security and misuse of information. He also asked that initiatives be undertaken to enhance better disposal of E-waste which has become a threat to people and the environment.

Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda made the remarks while officially opening the 21st East African Communications Organization congress at Sheraton Hotel, more about Kampala.

He noted that the formation of EACO is a welcome development as it is in line with the integration process.

“ICT is a strong agent in uniting people, it facilitates trade and positions us in a global village” he said.

He applauded the organization which he said has provided a forum for harmonizing a number of issues affecting the region. Among them the Prime Minister cited the removal of taxes previously levied on incoming calls within the region.

“I trust that our regional presence on the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) council will bring dividends to our people”

In his remarks, the Minister of ICT Hon. Nyombi Tembo said that ICT as a tool has driven efficiency in public service delivery in Uganda.

According to Hon. Nyombi, Uganda had 21 million mobile phone users and 12 million internet users as of March 2015.

He stressed that broadband access requires new thinking and strong partnerships. The Minister hailed Uganda Communications Commission for hosting the Congress.
Courts in the Greater Ankole region are operating with limited personnel and inadequate funding to cover the entire area, ailment the Senior Resident Judge, story Mbarara Magistrate Court, patient Justice Duncan Gaswaga told a visiting delegation of legislators.

Justice Gaswaga said the Court also lacked enough recording equipment crucial in capturing proceedings, while lower courts lacked furniture.

“We have few staff who serve lower courts in Rukungiri, Bushenyi and Isingiro districts and yet you find that they have no form of transportation,” said Justice Gaswaga, adding that sometimes they have to borrow furniture from Local Councils.

Opposition Members of Parliament led by Hon. Medard Sseggona (DP, Busiro East) visited Western Uganda to establish the state and welfare of courts and prisons, from June 15 – 19, 2015.

Greater Ankole comprises the districts of Isingiro, Sheema, Mbarara, Bushenyi, Rukungiri, Ibanda and Ishaka. The MPs interacted with the respective authorities, identifying issues experienced by courts and prisons in Mbarara, Rukungiri, Bushenyi, Kasese and Fort Portal.

Justice Gaswaga also said that their staff faced a higher temptation to engage in corruption due to poor pay.

“There will definitely bring a petition in Parliament on this issue because the Judiciary needs to serve when they are in a good state,” Hon Sseggona pledged.

During their tour of prisons, members commended the institutions for their organization, discipline, cleanliness and facilities for mothers with infants.

The O/C Mbarara Prison, Peter Ariku, said the prisons boasted of good infrastructure but however, said it suffered an imbalance in the ratio of staff to inmates.

“We have staff to prisoner ratio of 1:14 instead of the recommended 1:3, and this is very risky,” Mr. Ariku said.

The O/C Bushenyi Prison, expressed concern that most of their inmates had overstayed in prison due to delays in the courts system.

“We lack a Resident Judge in the area to attend to suspects of capital offences who have been remanded to prison,” Mr. Ssali noted.

The MPs promised to address the issues raised with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and to present a Report with their observations and recommendations to the House.

The delegation to Western Uganda comprised: Hon. Sseggona, Hon. Winifred Kiiza (Kasese district) and Hon. Lucy Akello (Amuru district).

Meanwhile another delegation led by the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Wafula Oguttu, visited courts and prison facilities in eastern and northern Uganda.



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