MPs Divided Over Conjugal Rights for Prisoners

2145 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Such an arrangement was a point of contention in a meeting between the committee and a team from Uganda Prisons Service today. The team was led by the Commissioner General of Prisons Johnson Byabashaija.

Members of the Human Rights Committee of Parliament are divided over a proposal to provide conjugal rights for persons in incarceration. 

This would cover a scheduled period in which inmates are permitted to spend several hours or days in private with a visitor who is usually their legal spouse.  In countries where conjugal rights are accepted, the time is usually utilized for sexual activity while in detention.

Such an arrangement was a point of contention in a meeting between the committee and a team from Uganda Prisons Service today. The team was led by the Commissioner General of Prisons Johnson Byabasaija.

Kassanda South MP Simeo Nsubuga said that the absence of conjugal rights in Uganda is an abuse of human rights and a double punishment to convicts and other persons in detention.

"It does not mean that an inmate ceases to have other rights by being detained. Prison should not be a vehicle to break people's homes," the former police officer Simeo Nsubuga said.
 
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Kilak South MP Gilbert Olanya weighed in saying that denying inmates conjugal rights is unfair treatment
 
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However, Bulamogi County MP Kenneth Lubogo said  the arrangement was unnecessary.
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Johnson Byabashaija, the Commissioner General of Prisons told MPs that there is a load of issues in prisons that need attention and that conjugal rights is the least of them.

"I am not yet able to provide for these visits. As you said, some of my prisoners are sleeping in showers, so conjugal rights are really far at the list of things we are going to do. I should first provide where these people are sleeping, I should have room them, then I can provide room for conjugal rights." said Byabasaija.

Conjugal rights are permitted in Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Australia, Germany, India, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Spain and Saudi Arabia.   The provision is also available in some Federal Prisons in the United States of America. They are usually tagged on the good conduct of the inmate.

 

About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.