Has Museveni Pardoned Prisoners to Curb the Spread of COVID-19 in Uganda?

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This article from two weeks ago claims that President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda pardoned 833 prisoners in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among the inmates and the final list was sent to the prisons.

According to the article, ‘The list also includes a number of Rwandan nationals who had been detained in Ugandan prisons who have also been pardoned by the president.’

Background

Prison overcrowding is arguably the single biggest problem facing prison systems. According to the World Prison Brief (WPB), the number of prisoners exceeds official prison capacity in at least 115 countries globally.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, some governments have made the decision to decongest prisons as a measure to curb the spread of the virus. Among these countries is Iran, Indonesia, Angola and Cameroon.

Verification

A search for the keywords, “Museveni Pardons Prisoners” leads to this YouTube upload by NTV Uganda on April 27, 2020:

The description given for the video is as copied below:

In a bid to decongest prisons as one of the measures to fight against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, 833 prisoners will be freed this week thanks to a Presidential Pardon. The prisoners who will be pardoned are mostly petty offenders who have already served three-quarters of their sentences.

CGTN Africa quoted Dr Johnson Byabashaija, the Commissioner General of Uganda Prisons Service, saying:

We are also working on decongesting our prisons and right now, the list of about 1,500 to 2,000 prisons who are not serving capital offences are going to be sent to the AG for consideration of pardon. I hope this will partly decongest our prisons. 

A look through the Uganda Police Service website shows that they updated on the same on June 15, 2020. The 833 prisoners were pardoned by the President’s prerogative of mercy under Article 121 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.

Verdict

The claim that President Museveni pardoned prisoners to curb the spread of COVID-19 is TRUE.

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Peris Gachahi

Peris Gachahi is a reporter at Africa Uncensored.She is passionate about human interest stories told through in-depth documentaries, data stories and digital storytelling.