The Principal Officer II (P.O.II) of Uganda Prison Hoima, Burhan Andabati, has underscored the need for a collective role and responsibility in ensuring universal human rights observation in spite of one’s status quo.
Mr Andabati’s note followed accusations that workshop participants heaped on the Uganda Prisons Services staff that they are also at the centre of gross violation of human rights in the country.
During a two-day workshop on the role and empowerment of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) in Hoima city, some participants hinted on what the prison officer described as misconceptions against the Uganda Prisons Services and life in jail.
Mr Andabati observed that all efforts to observe human rights can be thwarted once the role and responsibility is handled singly though the prison service tries to observe them.
“We also try to ensure human rights are respected though it is sometimes hard to achieve since it is a collective duty,” said P.O.II Andabati.
The prison officer disclosed that sometimes inmates exercise human rights especially when punishing fellow inmates who commit offences different from those for which they were incarcerated.
According to him, court sittings presided over by fellow inmates chosen from among themselves conclude on the appropriate punishment which is commonly in form of canes.
However, Mr Andabati said prison officers keep monitoring the situation to avoid excessive punishments.
Regarding holding inmates for long without trial that he said is evident even at present, the prison officer said the matter is beyond their control clarifying that the judiciary is solely responsible.
Mr Andabati confessed that it is an uncommon practice handling inmates with soft gloves pledging change in the manner they are handled after being sensitised a lot about human rights defence.
During the workshop, knowledge gaps of human rights concepts and referrals were highlighted as challenging efforts in advancing human rights in the Albertine Graben.
Participants including Mr Peter Nasasira, lauded Human Rights Centre Uganda (HRCU) for organising such a training that saw them acquire more knowledge about observing human rights.
Mr Robert Mugisa, a facilitator at the HRCU urged Human Rights Defenders to always work within the realms of the law and be exemplary to their communities.
In an exclusive interview with Kazi-njema News’ John Kibego, Mr Mugisa elaborated the major human rights issues affecting the people in the Albertine region as identified by the participants.