Uganda Prisons Receives Guidelines on Handling Terror Suspects

The Uganda Prisons has received three sets of guidelines on how to handle terror suspects.

The tools were developed by both the Uganda Prisons Services and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime -UNODC. They are supposed to prevent the spread of violent extremism in prisons where often terror suspects are remanded for long periods of time.

The three guidelines are; Basic Training in Module: Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism in Prison Settings; Bespoke Course- Essentials in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism in Prison Settings; and A Prisoner Classification Framework.

The guidelines are part of a two-year program funded by the European Union and the UNODC aimed at ensuring that prisons are not used as recruitment venues for terrorists.

Some of the areas of focus in the guidelines are; the separation of terror suspects from other prisoners, rehabilitation of persons convicted or remanded for terror-related offenses, and training of prison officers on how to handle terror suspects. The guidelines also highlight how social rehabilitation for terror suspects can be carried out within the prison and outside after release.

Dr Johnson Byabashaija, the Commissioner-General of the Uganda Prisons Services says the guidelines come at the right time following the November bomb blasts that claimed the lives of six people and injured 34.

According to Byabashaija, Uganda Prisons is set to receive more terror suspects following arrests that have been made.

“So far we know 100 people have been arrested in connection to the blasts,” Byabashaija added. “All these people will end up in prisons.”

The guidelines are currently being piloted in six prisons within the country. They include Luzira Murchison Bay, Jinja and Kitalya.

Vera Tkachenko, the UNODC global coordinator says prisons are an important place to focus on since it is believed that recruitment into terror cells can take place there.

“The security council resolution that was adopted in 2017 recognized that prisons could become incubators for terrorist recruitments because there are easy targets in prisons,” she says. “Currently in the world, there are 12 million prisoners and it’s important to understand the process of radicalization, and it’s important for prison officers to understand the push factors, ways to intervene, and how such scenarios can be prevented.”