Hoima Police Holding Suspects Beyond Mandatory 48 Hours-Edward Ochom

2622 Views Hoima, Uganda

In short
The constitution requires that suspects should not be held in police cells for more than 48 hours without charge.

Edward Ochom, the Director Research, Planning and Development Uganda Police Force, has blasted Hoima police for holding suspects in detention beyond the mandatory 48 hours. The constitution requires that suspects should not be held in police cells for more than 48 hours without charge. According to the constitution suspects should be produced in court within 48 hours or be released on police bond. However, according to Ochom, the contrary is happening at Hoima police station.
Ochom says most of the suspects at Hoima police station have been held for close to two weeks without charge. As a result, there are more than 30 suspects in the police cell meant for less 20 people. Ochom visited Hoima police station with members of the Justice Law and Order Sector-JLOS on Tuesday morning. The Assistant Inspector General of police said this is not only a violation of the suspects' rights, but also a sign of negligence by the police officers at the station.

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The visiting team also noted with concern that Juvenile offenders were being detained with adults at the Police Family and Child Protection Unit. The officials recommended that a separate building should be constructed to separate the detainees. Two months ago, Hoima district council approved the establishment of a child rehabilitation center to separate the lost and found children at the Unit from other offenders. Council is currently lobbying for funds for the project. Augustine Kasangaki, the Hoima District police commander attributed the challenges to the many constraints facing the force.

He says due to lack of transport  investigations of some cases especially in hard-to-reach areas take long thus delaying suspects in detention. Kasangaki says for the Family and Child Protection Unit they are constrained by space, the reason that the offenders are detained in the same building only separated by cubicles. The team first visited Hoima Prison located in Kiryatete Hoima Municipality. Inmates there decried lack of inbuilt toilets and beddings. Joseph Busiinge, one of the inmates said lack of inbuilt facilities inconveniences them at night when they want to ease themselves.

Latrines are located outside the prison facility. Responding to the complaints David Nsalasatta, the Commissioner Rehabilitation services Uganda Prisons said government has started providing inbuilt water borne toilet facilities in all prison facilities. He said Hoima would also benefit soon.

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Francis Byaruhanga, the in charge of the prison says they are faced with overcrowding.  Hoima Prisons has a capacity of 200 inmates, but has more than 250 inmates detained there.  Asaf Ruhinda, the Acting Chief Registrar of courts who led the team says this is an annual assessment and monitoring of the Justice Law and Order Sector Institutions across the county.

The team has so far visited facilities in Masindi and Kiryandongo districts.