President`s speech at the commissioning of Prisons Officers

Saturday 8th April 2017
Speech by President Museveni at the commissioning of Prisons Officers

Your Excellency, the Vice President,

Your Lordship, the Chief Justice of Uganda,

Hon. Ministers present,

Development partners,

All Senior Officers of the Armed Forces in your various capacities,

Invited Guests, Trainees and your Parents,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Today, I am glad because the Management of Ministry of Internal Affairs has taken my directives very seriously by re-defining the strategic direction of the Prisons to transform from a penal institution to a productive Correctional Service. This is one way of keeping offenders out of our society at reduced costs.

They have set up prisons intelligence system by adopting force multipliers – using cameras in monitoring and controlling offenders. They have also enhanced production systems- cotton, seed and furniture.

While we have stabilized the general security situation in the country, by defeating various rebel groups such as ADF, there is still a small problem of dealing with thefts in the villages.

There is lawlessness of politicians flexing up to death and also courts releasing suspects on bail.

There are still criminal elements disturbing homes in the villages and urban centres inform of thefts of cattle, goats, chicken, food and cash crops in gardens. This is slowing down economic progress of people who are setting up various economic / income generating activities.

These thieves will be dealt with decisively. I have instructed IGP to strengthen CIID and D/GISO to strengthen their structures to deal with these criminal elements at that level. PISO, GISO, and CIID working together will eliminate these criminal elements.

I am glad people have started appreciating, trusting and respecting the role of state institutions, such as Police to resolve their grievances.

Prisons play an important role in fighting crime. The first role is keeping offenders out of society for a specific period of time (Deterrence). The second role is retribution – an eye for an eye and the third and most important role is rehabilitation.

Prisons are State institutions strategically positioned to ensure that once criminals are withdrawn from the society, they are kept in prisons until lawfully discharged.

Therefore, as a State Institution, Prisons Services must have a clear ideological and correctional framework.

The corrections ideology must recognize the roles of each stakeholder in correcting offending behavior.  In traditional African Society, The family was the first level of shaping behaviour in community.

The family, therefore, was the primary level and the community institutions (schools, churches, sports, cultural institutions and organizations) were regarded as secondary level of correcting offending behaviour. The State plays a facilitation role and prisons are the final level of correcting offending behaviour.

Correcting offending behaviour, therefore, is not just a duty of one person or institution. It is the responsibility of all social institutions and individuals. It is only at that final point when the society has failed, that the Criminal Justice System (Police, DPP, Judiciary and Prisons) step in.

Therefore, once the state has taken up the criminal because the society has failed to handle him then the courts must not release him on bail.

The period 1986-2005 witnessed a downward trend in crime. This was because of efficiency and effectiveness of LCs in prevention of crime and handling community conflicts.

Between 2006 and 2010 there was an upward trend in crime.  This forced us to adopt a new approach in handling criminals (Operation Wembley) - to weed out thugs who had acquired guns in previous governments but were not able to use them to terrorize and rob communities because of vigilance of the LC system. This is a very successful story to tell.

When we insisted that whoever is found with a gun illegally should be tried in Court Marshal which handles soldiers, because of inability of Courts to handle such bandits, some reactionary elements in our society sabotaged the move.  That is why we still have some bandits in our communities.

We have to recruit more personnel in the entire Criminal Justice System: Judges and Magistrates; Police, Prosecutors, and Prisons Officers, distorting the logical sequencing in development approach. The money that would be spent on improving staff welfare is now diverted to recruiting more staff to handle cases that would have been handled by LCs.

To the staff who are being commissioned, you have joined the Government at the time when the welfare of staff is being addressed through various schemes- Duty Free Shop, SACCOs; Support to Spouses, etc. You must take advantage of these opportunities.

You must observe discipline, code of conduct and patriotism. You must live a socially responsible life to avoid HIV/AIDS.  The way you live in society is also part of discipline.

I do not tolerate any case of indiscipline and unethical behavior. Uganda Prisons Service has been built on discipline and professionalism.  You must adhere to the rules and regulations of Uganda Civil Service in general and the Uganda Prisons Service in particular.

As young officers, you should not focus on the demanding high salaries. You must be patriotic to enable the country first set up the required infrastructure for further economic growth.

I now commission 201 Prisons Officers and pass out 122 Principal Officers.

I thank you all.

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