The Parliament Appointments Committee has rejected the re-appointment of Dr Johnson Byabashaija as the Commissioner-General of the Uganda Prisons Service on the basis of old age. The same committee also rejected the appointment of James Mwanje, as his deputy, on the same grounds.
Both Byabashaija and Mwanje appeared before the committee chaired by the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga today for vetting. But sources from the closed-door meeting rejected their appointment on grounds that the two, have already clocked 60, the mandatory retirement age of Public servants.
Before he could be entertained by the vetting committee, sources privy to the proceedings indicated that the legislators were debating whether to interface with the officials or just dismiss them. Moments later, Byabasaija, clad in a navy blue suit and white necktie, was later ushered into the vetting room by parliament staff. However, he came out hardly after ten minutes.
In an interview thereafter, the officer who has served as Commissioner General for 15 years said that age could not stop his service. He said that although he is aged 62, the law does not apply to him in the circumstances because he is serving on a contract basis of three years. Byabasaija had retired from Public Service in 2005.
Article 217 of the Constitutions that operationalizes the Prisons Act, 2006 is silent about the age of requirement.
Meanwhile, Byabashaija told journalists that Dr Byabashaija noted that the Prisons Service has written to the Registrar of Courts to release suspects whose remand period has expired – but excluding those on capital offences.
Under the same arrangement, Byabashaija said, they intend to set free about 2,000 inmates in a bid to decongest the facilities as one of the control measures to contain the spread of COVID19.
“Our main effort is to make sure the virus doesn’t enter prisons because it is only us who work there who can introduce it or the new prisoners. But we have made sure that the new prisoners don’t go into our prison,” he said.
To the effect, the Prisons leadership has written to the Attorney General, William Byaruhanga asking the government to consider pardoning petty offenders who have already served at least three-quarters of their sentences, breastfeeding mothers and inmates aged above 65.