NEBBI- Inmates seeking justice at Nebbi Chief Magistrate’s Court walk 32 kilometres daily whenever they show up for prosecution.
Dressed in their yellow uniforms, the inmates guarded by prison warders, brave bumpy and dusty roads whenever their cases come up for mention or at delivery of the verdict.
The problem has persisted at Koch Prison in Nebbi District for the last five years following the construction of the prison. Prison authorities cite lack of means to transport inmates to and from the court.
The situation is made worse during the rainy season when the inmates get drenched in rain as they walk long distances. The matter became a subject for discussion during a meeting with Uganda Human Rights Commission on Monday.
A legal officer with Uganda Law Society, Mr Peter Pacutho, said: “It is sad to see inmates trekking 16 kilometres from prison to court and back to prison,” he observed.
The current prison cell was constructed to accommodate 32 inmates but the warders are overwhelmed by the growing numbers.
Commenting about the challenge, the deputy Regional Police Commander for North Western, Mr Grace Mutono, said: “Let the prisons authorities inform the police so that we see how to avail our police car to transport the inmates. And if the prisons could provide fuel, then this will help us a lot.”
The ill inmates are transported on bicycles by the warders. The prison authorities, however, fear the inmates could at some point rebel and end up escaping.
Recently, the Regional Uganda Human Rights Commission Officer, Ms Juliet Logose, said their findings on Koch prisons painted a grim future for the inmates.
“We found deplorable living conditions and no transport means. Government needs to ensure the prison is completed and transport means provided,” she said.
The principal officer Koch government prison, Mr Alfred Okello, observed that it is by God’s mercy that they have kept inmates at the prison.
“We have been transporting inmates using bicycles to health centres and courts.
We pray that the authorities provide us with transport means since this is the only prison in Nebbi Town,” he said.
The other Ojigo prison in Wadelai Sub-county has incomplete structures and inmates are accommodated in a condemned unipot, exposing their lives to danger.