KAMPALA – Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has tasked the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to explain why suspects arrested during the 2016 Rwenzururu palace attacks haven’t been tried, saying that the group should be part of the prisoners to be released as government plans to decongest prisons to control the spread of Coronavirus.
Speaker’s call follows a concern raised by Busongora North MP, William Nzoghu who asked government to consider releasing prisoners from Rwenzori sub-region who were arrested in 2016 and are still detained without trial.
During Wednesday’s plenary sitting, Nzoghu said that these prisoners were arrested from districts of Bunyangabo, Kabarole, Ntoroko and Kasese and are currently detained miles away from their home in Kirinya prison in Jinja.
Nzoghu said, “They were arrested in 2016, but up to now, they’re still detained in Kirinya prison and have been tried in court yet this pandemic is threatening everyone across the globe. I do seek your indulgence to add the people of Rwenzori on the list so that they’re released.”
Nzoghu invoked articles 21, 23 and 28 of the Constitution and asked Government to consider these prisoners from Rwenzori on the list of other prisoners who are about to be released as a good gesture to prisoners with minor offences and those about to complete their sentence, as well as those who have stayed on demand without trial for a long time.
Kadaga said, “The Ministry of Justice is directed to come and show cause why prisoners for Rwenzururu who were arrested in 2016 and have never been tried are still in custody and whether they can’t be added to those who are about to be released in due of congestion under the Coronavirus pandemic.”
The Uganda Prisons Services announced recently of plans to release about 2000 prisoners, as a measure to decongest prisons and curb on threat of spread of COVID-19 in Uganda.
The detainees from Rwenzururu were arrested following clashes between security forces and residents in Kasese, clashes that ended with over 100 people losing their lives to UPDF as well as arrest of residents and Rwenzururu King, Wesley Numbers, who is battling treason charges in High Court.