What can be done when my rights are violated by a prison officer? - Justice Centres Uganda
prison officer

What can be done when my rights are violated by a prison officer?

Powers of a Prison Officer

A Prison Officer has similar powers, protection, and privileges of a Police Officer within a prison or while in charge of prisoners for transferring any person to or from prison and to apprehend any prisoner who may have escaped or attempted to escape from lawful custody.

Prison officers are responsible for the welfare of the inmates and, therefore, in carrying out their duty, as far as possible may use non-violent means before resorting to using of force.

Offenses by Prisons Officers

Misconduct of a Prison Officer must be reported to the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of the prison or the Regional Prison’s Commander (RPC). These are some of the examples of reportable offenses:

  • Corrupt practices, that is to say if a Prisons Officer solicits or receives any bribe;
  • Failure to account for or to make a prompt and true return of any money or property received by him or her in an official capacity; testimonial, without the consent of the Commissioner General;
  • Receives any fee or gratuity from or having any business dealings, with visitors to prison; or improperly uses his or her character and position as a member of the service for his or her private advantage; or
  • Writes, signs or gives without the sanction of the officer in charge any testimonial or character or other recommendation with the object of obtaining employment for any prisoner or another person;
  • Traffics with prisoners; exchanging prohibited articles with prisoners like cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, weapons of any kind or money;
  • Allows unauthorized persons to communicate with prisoners, or brings tobacco or spirituous or fermented liquor or any other prohibited articles into a prison; Uses any unnecessary violence to any prisoner; and
  • Is uncivil or uses improper language, to any member of the public.

Disciplining of Prison Officers

A Prison Officer above the rank of Senior Superintendent of Prisons is disciplined by the Prisons Authority. Disciplinary action for a Prison Officer below the rank of Senior Superintendent of Prisons is carried out by the Prisons Council. The Regional Prisons Commander and the Officer -in -charge have powers to handle disciplinary cases on behalf of the Prisons Authority or Prisons Council.

Handling of Complaints of Prisoners

The law requires that every prisoner on admission be provided with written information regarding:

  • Regulations of treatment of prisoners
  • The disciplinary requirements of the institution;
  • The authorized methods of seeking information;
  • What to do in case an inmate has a complaint; and
  • All other matters that are necessary to enable a prisoner to understand both his or her rights and obligations.

The law allows an inmate to petition the President through the Commissioner General of Prisons. The petition must be in a written form, An inmate may make a complaint to a Visiting Justice, the Commissioner General of Prisons, the Regional Prisons Commander, the Officer-in-charge of Prison. The law provides for the appointment of visiting justices to visit prison who are at any time of their choice, inspect a ward, cell, separate cell, yard, and any other room or part of a prison to which he or she is appointed.

Visiting justices can hear any complaint which an inmate may wish to make to him or her and can especially inquire into the condition of those prisoners who are undergoing punishment. The Visting justices can forward complaints received from inmates to the Commisioner General. You can contact Uganda Prison Service at:

Plot 13/15 Parliament Avenue, Kampala. Tel: 414 342136 Tel: 414 256751 Tel: 414 343330 Website:https://prisons.go.ug. Email: info@prisons.go.ug Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UgandaPrisons/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/UgandaPrisons[f1] Toll free line 0800144144

Offenses by Prisoners

Prisons have regulations that guide prisoners during their stay in prison. The Regulations provide an elaborate list of both minor and aggravated prison offenses. All prisoners are provided with a copy of these regulations. There are penalties for all the offenses, once a prisoner has been found guilty of committing the offense.

Source: Judicial Service Commission: A Citizen’s Handbook on Law and Administration of Justice in Uganda. 4th Edition

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