EDF Human Rights (Prisons) Programme


In 2004-06, the Uganda Prison Service (UPS) obtained funding from the European Development Fund (EDF) of the European Union (EU) to undertake various activities. The EU supports Government of Uganda programmes under funding cycles and this funding was under the 8th funding cycle - the 8th EDF support.

Under the 8th EDF, Uganda Prisons undertook a baseline survey (study) to assess the human rights situation in prisons and possible causes .

1. The survey identified the following issues as major causes of human rights violation for persons under detention.

    There was low human rights awareness (national, regional, & international legislations on treatment of offenders),
    There was non-provision of basic necessities of life such as accommodation (e.g. prisons designed for 23 prisoners housing 265 inmates),
    There was no supply of safe water and sanitation (50% of inmates use Night Soil Bucket system, have no access to safe water supply),
    health facilities and health supplies were in short supply (68% of clinical investigations differ from actual),
    food supply to prisoners was inadequate (50% of prisons serve one (1) combined meal due to limited kitchen facilities),
    there was long stay of prisoners on remand (over 3 years),

2. Further, under the 8th EDF, human rights training manual for prisons officials was developed, and integrated into prisons training curriculum. The Department was also enabled to set up human rights desks in all prisons under central government. Three (3) human rights regional workshops were conducted each with 150 participants.

After this funding, it was found necessary that Uganda Prisons moves to address the issues identified. Subsequently the EU granted support to the UPS under the 9th funding cycle - 9th EDF for a period of 2 years, running from October 2007 to December 2009 to continue with the programme to address specific incidents of human rights violation in the prison units.

The UPS is currently implementing a two year EDF funded programme under the 9th EDF support, aimed at building the capacity of UPS in observing and protecting the rights of inmates. Under this programme, prisons staff will be empowered with knowledge to help them understand human rights issues and principles of humane correctional work. It is hoped that this will enable them to respect rights and freedoms of the people under their charge as well as the general public.

Since January 2008 to date, the UPS has so far trained 1,018 prisons staff in human rights and plans to train an additional 100 staff by end of May 2009. The trained staffs are expected to be ambassadors to champion the observance of HRs in your respective prisons. Each of these trained staff will under go a two weeks training in human rights.

Still under this programme, 20 prisons (10 women and 10 men prisons) will benefit from a modern water harvesting scheme, to address the severe water crisis in some of the prisons, something that forces them to walk long distances in search for water.

Two prisons clinics will be upgraded with modern laboratories, one in Gulu and the other in Mbale prisons to enhance clinical diagnosis in the management of disease among inmates as good clinical management is a precursor in treatment and in preventing deaths. This is of urgent need as the following excerpt reveals.

In a study conducted by Mulago Medical School on the natural causes of death among the inmates of Luzira Prisons in Uganda as seen at Autopsy in Mulago Hospital Complex (Onzivua ,2003), revealed:

  1. That a high degree of disagreement was found to exist between the clinical diagnosis and the final diagnosis established at autopsy. Out of the 35 cases of TB confirmed at autopsy, clinical diagnosis was missed in sixteen (45.7%) of the cases.
  2. Out of the thirty-four inmates who were found to be HIV negative by serology at autopsy, seven (20.1%) had been clinically diagnosed as AIDS cases. In eighty-four cases where diagnosis was made at autopsy, only twenty-five (24.5%) had the same diagnosis clinically.
  3. The study therefore noted the need to improve on the clinical diagnosis in the management of the inmates of Luzira as good clinical management could have prevented many of these deaths.

Three Resource Centers will be established at selected units to give prisoners an opportunity to access information. Books will be availed and could be borrowed by the inmates and returned later. This will enhance the inmates’ right to information.