600 Ugandans Await the Gallows

1659 Views Kampala, Uganda
More than 600 Ugandans are currently awaiting the death penalty after they were successfully convicted for various capital offences, according to the latest information established from the Uganda Prisons Service. In legal terms, a capital offence is a crime whose penalty is usually death upon conviction. Frank Baine, the Public Relations Officer of the Uganda Prisons Service, told Uganda Radio Network, that most of those on the death row are convicted robbers, murderers, rapists and cases of kidnap with intention to murder. He said other capital cases that make the 600 include defilement and terrorism, which are not that common compared to the first group of crimes. Out of the 600, Baine revealed that there are 15 women, most of whom are serving murder cases and other cases that are technically described as emotional crimes. The emotional crimes committed by the women also include murder, pouring acid on other people, manslaughter, violence and arson. Baine said that out of the 600 prisoners; about 200 are jailed at Kirinya prison in Jinja while the rest are in Luzira. The judiciary established a deliberate system called the Express Operational Case Backlog Handling, to clear the backlog. He said this system led to several convictions, many of who were capitals in nature. Cue In: "It's true that... Cue Out : "........ as we are talking now". Baine says that the last three years have witnessed a shift from defilement traditionally being the leading capital offence to murders and robbery now topping the list. The Supreme Court recently ruled in a landmark case against the death penalty that if a prisoner is not hanged three years from the time they are sentenced to death, then that prisoner should not be hanged but allowed to serve a 20-year sentence without remission. Serving without Remission in prison terms means serving in full the entire sentence, without any reduction in the number of days. Baine told Uganda Radio Network that much as they are a government organization, they have continued to support the campaign by NGOs against the death penalty after discovering that majority of the former convicts on death row reform successfully. The prison authority usually hires the services of counselors and psychosocial support to make the inmates stop thinking that their lives are coming to en end once they have been convicted. The last time the president signed the hanging of prisoners on death row was in 1999.