Conjugal Rights to Prisoners Not a Priority - Byabashaija

2641 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Uganda Prisons Commissioner General, Dr Johnson Byabashaija, told the Human Rights committee of parliament that one cannot grant the people right to sex when they do not have where to sleep or where to ease themselves.

While Uganda Human Rights Commission is advocating that prisoners be given conjugal rights, the Prisons Service says it is not possible and neither is it a priority now.

Uganda Prisons Commissioner General, Dr Johnson Byabashaija, told the Human Rights committee of parliament that one cannot grant the people right to sex when they do not have where to sleep or where to ease themselves.

He said his priority now is to eliminate congestion from prisons, construct prisons in places where they are not and then get enough facilities required for prisoners to enjoy conjugal rights.

//Cue in: “Right to sex…
Cue out: …of conjugal rights.”//

The vice chairperson of the committee Safia Nalule asked Byabashaija why he has never included that issue in his budget requirements and he replied that he first needs to improve the prisons facilities.

Aswa county MP Reagan Okumu told the Prisons boss that the committee cannot listen to that excuse as their responsibility is to ensure that the rights of Ugandans are not stifled. He suggested that Uganda Prisons constructs lodges for hire for those who can afford.

//Cue in: “It’s a parliamentary…
Cue out: …you earn income.”//

Mityana North MP Godfrey Kiwanda asked Byabashaija to make it clear if prisoners are prohibited from having sex. In response, Byabashaija said that it is not prohibited and told the committee that prisoners in other countries enjoy these rights but prisons in Uganda are not yet equipped enough to make it possible.

The MPs reasoned that the denial of conjugal rights could be the reason there are reports of homosexual practices in prisons. Byabashaija admitted but said they are dealing with the habit. He said if a prisoner is suspected to be practicing homosexuality he is harassed and discriminated against by fellow prisoners.

He said he does not have conjugal rights on his schedule but promised to consider the issue on insistent of the MPs.

//Cue in: “My priorities now…
Cue out: …in order of priorities.”//
 
In 2009 Byabashaija said that the HIV/Aids infection rate in prisons was much higher than the national average, attributing it to a rise in homosexuality in the prisons.

In October this year, African prison bosses under their umbrella, African Correctional Services Association (ACSA), met in Kampala and deliberated on the possibility ofallowing prisoners to be allowed sex visitations, in the hope that this will stop homosexuality in detention centres. The prison chiefs reasoned that if prisoners continue to be denied their conjugal rights HIV and Aids will increase, while homosexuality, a crime in many African countries, will be rampant.