223 enroll for Mbarara Plea Bargaining Prison Camp

  • by Mary Ociiti
  • July 21, 2020


The Principal Judge, Dr Flavian Zeija, on June 29, flagged off the Mbarara June edition Plea Bargaining prison camp where three Judges camped at three different prisons to conclude cases that had been bargained.

Judges; Tadeo Asiimwe, Joyce Kavuma and Jane Okuo Kajuga will hold court at Mbarara Main, Kakyika and Nyamushekyera prison in Bushenyi to ensure that inmates willing to plead guilty in exchange of lenient sentences or lesser charges access justice quickly and within prison walls.

A total of 223 from the three facilities have enrolled as follows, 91 at Mbarara Main, 71 at Kakyika and 61 at Bushenyi prisons.

In his address to the accused persons, the Principal Judge reassured the inmates that when a person is remorseful to their wrong, they attract mercy from the aggrieved party, which is a premise of Plea Bargaining.

He pointed out that some inmates don’t enroll for the quick access to justice hoping that witnesses will not show up at their trials which is not always the case. He called on both the capital and petty offenders to embrace the programme.

However, he cautioned them not abuse the initiative by proposing ridiculous sentences saying Plea Bargaining should be treated with the seriousness it deserves.

These sentiments were echoed by the Director of Public Prosecution, Justice Jane Frances Abodo, who further urged the inmates to make reasonable offers during the bargains. “Don’t make ridiculous offers because that will take a long time as we strive for equity…as prosecutors we have a duty to stand in the gap between accused persons and victims. We cannot accept laughable bargains.”

On innocent accused persons taking advantage of Plea Bargaining, the DPP cautioned them and urged them to wait for their day in court.

She further shared that her office was reviewing files in order to weed out those without adequate evidence. Justice Abodo said they (ODPP) were going to work with prisons to ensure that inmates charged with capital offences are committed to the High Court for trial.

Accused persons charged with defying presidential directives during the lockdown had their cases withdrawn as part of efforts to decongest prisons.

Additionally, the PJ reassured the inmates that efforts to decongest prisons were on course as three ordinary sessions are set to be held before the year ends.

The Officer in Charge of Mbarara Main Prison, Innocent Draville, in his lock-up report of June 29 said the prison was holding 2,158 inmates of 1,047 remand prisoners. He commended the efforts of the circuit judges who have reduced the numbers of commitals from more than 1,000 to 600 within a space of a year.

The outgoing Regional Prisons Commander, Frank Byamugisha, commended the PJ for honoring the prisons request to hold more sessions. He urged the inmates to ensure they get gainful employment when they are released.

Notably present at the camp was the Judiciary Technical Advisor, Mr Andrew Khaukha, who also heads the Plea Bargaining secretariat, a team from ODPP led by Assistant DPP, Margaret Nakigudde, defense counsel and representatives from Police. Ag Registrar High Court, Mary Ikit, Mbarara Deputy Registrar, Amos Kwizera, Assistant Inspector of Courts and Public Relations Officer, Jamson Karemani were equally present.

Judicial officers from the Mbrarara Chief Magistrates Court led by CM Samuel Twakire, JLOS Criminal Justice Advisor, Lucy Ladira, took part in the exercise.