Dr. Johnson Byabasaija, the Commissioner General of Uganda Prisons has banned journalists from accessing prison facilities across the country without his authorization. Byabashaija has directed all officers in charge of prison facilities to bar journalists from accessing the prisons in search of information for publication.
He says no journalist is allowed to take photographs or cover stories from any prison facility without his express permission.
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Byabashaija issued the directive on Wednesday while visiting Mbarara prison ahead of their top management meeting. He also apologized to two journalists who were recently assaulted by prisoner warders at Kalisizo Government prison. Pascal Lutabi, a reporter with WBS Television and John Bosco Mulyowa, a journalist with the Vision Group were recently assaulted by prison warders while pursuing a story on the escape of ten inmates.
The implicated warders are Robert Ssematta, the officer in charge of Kalisizo Government Prison, Tom Okello and Frank Kyomuhiru. Dr. Byabashaija said that he has already taken appropriate action against the warders.
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On the congestion in prisons, Byabashaija said they are in the process of completing the construction of new wards at Bushenyi, Mbarara and Kiruhura Government prisons to address the living conditions of the inmates. He faulted the judiciary for failing to organize criminal court sessions to reduce on the huge numbers of suspects who have over stayed their remand period.
Tobius Ebongo, the South Western regional Prison Commander disclosed that Mbarara prison is currently home to 1039 inmates yet it was built to accommodate only 360 inmates.