President Museveni has reiterated the need to sentence to death criminals that lead to loss of lives of others.
He was speaking at the annual judges’ conference in Kampala on Monday, where he called upon them to desist from very lenient punishments to criminals if they are to ensure peace prevails.
“For us in our societies we believe in the law of Moses, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, if you interfere with that you will see the instability you will cause here. In fact, I have been making a mistake of not signing death sentences but I am now repenting completely from that mistake,” Museveni said.
Museveni further called for expeditious handling of cases involving murder despite judiciary facing backlog issues. He said the judiciary is responsible for backlog since they are not giving priority to serious cases, mostly those involving loss of lives.
“If there is to be backlog, let it be about divorce and those small things. What destabilises society is life, because once life is lost and there are no answers, people become afraid,” he said.
I might change my mind on hanging death row inmates, says Museveni
President Yoweri Museveni has said by the look of things, he might be forced to think about changing his stance on hanging death row inmates.
Uganda Prisons Services 278 inmates serving the death sentence and of these 74 are waiting for the prerogative of mercy from the president.
Uganda last hanged a death row inmate in 1999 and that time 28 convicts who had exhausted all routes of appeal against their death sentences were killed.
Speaking at the ceremony to pass out of over 900 prisons officers at the Prisons Academy and Training School ground in Luzira, Museveni said that criminals are now taking it for granted that they cannot be hanged and continue to misbehave, a thing he said should change.
“If you see how they (criminals) kill our people, they need some lesson,” Museveni said on Thursday last week.
“The way we have been doing, they think we are lenient.”
On the New Year’s Day, machete wielding thugs attacked villages including Kisojjo, Kyabagoma and Kyamabaale in Kibinge Sub County in Bukomansimbi district and Kiryasaaka found in Kkingo Sub County in Lwengo district at night killing five people including a retired senior officer and injuring twelve others.
The Inspector General of Police Gen.Kale Kayihura said that most of the suspects arrested in those murders had been repeat offenders who had been imprisoned but got out on bail.
However, president Museveni said he had stopped allowing hanging of death row inmates but said this must change.
“I have not been hanging these people because of my Christian values but I think I am too lenient and is becoming a problem.”
Museveni said that because of this leniency, many criminals have gone on to kill people.
The Commissioner General of Prisons, Dr.Johnson Byabashaija said the scaffold (equipment to hang) and the executioners are available for use any time.
“If there is work for it, we shall avail it,” Dr. Byabshaija said.
According to Frank Baine, the Prisons spokesperson, when the High Court sentences one to death, they are allowed to appeal in the Court of Appeal and later Supreme Court if it fails at the lower court.
“When Supreme Court agrees with the lower courts staying the sentence, the president later sits to either sign the prerogative of mercy or not,” Baine said.
He added that on pardon, the president can choose to have the sentence changed to a lighter one or let the prisoner be released.
President Museveni recently pardoned Lt. Col. Nasur Abdallah, Brig. Ali Fadhul and Chris Rwakasisi, who were all on death penalty for the atrocities committed during past regimes.