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State Breaks Silence on Reports of Release of 400 Prisoners Who Illegally Owned Guns; Ugandans Panic

Prisons Boss Johnson Byabashaija. Courtesy Photo

The Ugandan state, through the Uganda Prisons Service, has cleared the air on reports that over 400 prisoners who had been on remand over illegal possession of fire arms had been released but their transport costs back home left unmet, causing panic that these could engage in criminal activities and cause insecurity. 

UPS spokesperson Frank Baine has dismissed reports, saying the released prisoners who had been on remand for a month had been transported back home.

“The public is hereby implored to disregard the circulating social media story purporting that 400 prisoners were released of from Moroto Government prison and are likely to cause insecurity in Moroto because they are not able to go back home,” said Baine in a statement issued on July 14.

Baine also dismissed reports that the number of those who were released from Moroto Prison under the Usalama kwa Wote operation. He put the number of those set free at 171 remand prisoners.

According to the Prisons publicist, the decision to release the remand prisoners stemmed from a ruling by a Grade one Magistrate.

“Magistrate Grade I, on Wednesday 13th July 2022 released a group of 171 remand prisoners from Moroto Court. These prisoners had been transferred from Nakapiripirit to Moroto Government Prison for security reasons. The released were charged with illegal possession of firearms and had stayed in prison for one month.,” he said.

He also noted that the transportation of remand prisoners from Moroto to Nakapiripirit was on “humanitarian grounds.”

“According to the Standing Orders, remand prisoners don’t qualify for transport to the place of arrest. However, the Officer in charge Moroto Government Prison on humanitarian grounds managed to have the released prisoners taken back to Nakapiripirit district,” added Baine.

It should be noted that the released prisoners had not been convicted of the crimes they were accused of.

In cases where one has been convicted, the law allows the president to pardon prisoners. For example, in August 2020, President Museveni forgave over 800 prisoners and ordered for their release from prison. (Read Story and See Names of Those Pardoned HERE).

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