By Rashid Bunya, Research Associate Foundation for Human Rights Initiative
The Vision of Thursday 1st February 2018, it was reported that, “the police will no longer fine traffic offenders but instead take them to court immediately”. The assumption is that once the offender fails to pay the fine on that day, he or she will be remanded to prison until trial.
It is alleged that the move will help reduce accidents. A report released by Foundation for Human Rights Initiative-“Justice delayed is Justice denied: the plight of pre-trial detainees” in March 2017, revealed that the prison population stood at 54,059 of which 52 % were pre-trial detainees.
The report further noted that the government spends 1,350,000 Shillings to feed an inmate every year, thus about 70, 000,000,000 Shillings is spent on feeding prisoners every year. It further disclosed that prison occupancy in Uganda is at 300%.
This means that a space for 1 inmate is occupied by 3. A report from Forbes ranked Ugandan prisons as the sixth crowded prisons in the world with an occupancy level of 293.2 percent. Forbes also noted that for every 100, 000 people in Uganda, 129 are prisoners basing on the total country population of 41.99 million according to the United Nations.
In this context the government needs to consider alternative solutions, such as community service for minor traffic offences as punishment and not imprisonment.