Uganda, Kampala-Hundreds of suspects are languishing on remand in Ugandan prisons across the country following a nationwide strike by prosecutors. Public Prosecutors resumed their strike last week following the expiry of the 90 days ultimatum they issued to the government for pay rise.
Through Uganda Association of Prosecutors (UAP), the Prosecutors are demanding for more than 100 per cent pay rise from the lowest officer to the Director of Public Prosecutions-DPP. Currently, the lowest ranking state prosecutor in Uganda earns a gross pay of Uganda Shillings 645,000.
A Senior Principal State Attorney earns Ugandan Shillings 2.1 million, the Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Shillings 2.9 million, Assistant DPP Shillings 2.4 million Shillings and DPP Shillings 11 million. However, the prosecutors are demanding for a pay rise for the lowest level from Shillings 645,000 to Shillings 9 million and the DPP from Shillings 11 million to 40 million. The prosecutor’s strike has stalled the hearing of hundreds of cases across the country denying thousands of suspects their right to justice.
Although Uganda Prison Service has been ferrying suspects to court, they are returned to prison since their cases can’t be heard without the prosecutors. The Uganda Prison Services Spokesperson, Frank Baine, says they have continued ferrying inmates from the 253 prison facilities to courts since the strike began because they haven’t received instructions not too.
“We currently bring inmates to court, but return them to prisons without appearing before judges because of the strike,” he said. According to Baine, the strike also has far reaching implications of their budget. “We spend over 5000 liters of fuel each day to transport inmates to the numerous courts across the country. This is likely to affect our budget because this fuel isn’t planned for,” he said.
The strike is also piling pressure of police cells forcing them to release suspects on bond. Luke Owoyesigyire, the Deputy Spokesperson for Kampala Metropolitan Area, says they are doing everything possible to avoid congestion in their cells since the suspects can’t appear in court.
The prosecutor’s strike is one of the many that have bedeviled the Ugandan government in the recent past. The others include the strike by teachers, university lecturers and medics pushing for a pay rise.