July 14, 2011

Key Recommendations

For Immediate Implementation

The Uganda Prisons Service and Ministry of Internal Affairs should:

  • Issue direct orders to stop the use of forced prison labor for private landowners or prison staff;
  • Declare a zero tolerance policy for the beating of prisoners and warn that staff and inmates will be disciplined and punished for abuses;
  • Carry out regular monitoring visits led by headquarters and medical staff to ensure the health and well-being of prisoners throughout the country and a halt to corrupt labor practices;
  • Provide condoms to all prisoners and prison staff, in conjunction with HIV/AIDS education on harm reduction;
  • Provide TB screening and offer HIV voluntary counseling and testing to all inmates, and ensure prompt initiation and continuation of treatment for those with confirmed disease;
  • Establish guidelines for immediate referral of all prisoners with confirmed TB or HIV to facilities where they will receive treatment, and halt the practice of transferring inmates on treatment away from prisons with treatment capacity;
  • Issue direct orders to all officers in charge to allow inmates reporting illness or disability to seek healthcare, and to take responsibility for inmate health.

The judiciary should conduct all bail hearings in open court and the Rules Committee should issue a Practice Direction setting conditions for bail and guidelines on appropriate amounts in line with income levels in Uganda.

For Longer-Term Implementation

The Ugandan Parliament and Ministry of Finance should secure, and international donors should assist with securing, enough funding for the prison budget to ensure conditions consistent with international standards, without reliance on income from forced inmate labor for private landowners.

The Uganda Prisons Service and Ministry of Internal Affairs should establish guidelines on prison-based health services and scale up those services to:

  • Establish at each prison nationwide at minimum one trained health worker, with a supply of essential medications;
  • Conduct health screenings of all prisoners on entry and at regular intervals;
  • Ensure access to prenatal, postnatal, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) services and address the nutritional needs of pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers;
  • Ensure access to mental health services;
  • Provide prompt referrals and transfer to higher level facilities in the community or prison system for appropriate treatment.

The Ministry of Justice should devise a functional legal aid system to ensure that defendants have access to a lawyer from the time of arrest.