US sanctions Uganda prisons boss over torture claims

Saturday December 09 2023

Uganda's Commissioner General of Prisons Johnson Byabashaija. PHOTO | COURTESY


The US Department of Treasury on Friday sanctioned Uganda’s Commissioner General of Prisons Johnson Byabashaija over allegations of torture in the country’s correctional facilities. 

The sanction comes just days after the US imposed visa restrictions on unnamed Ugandan government officials believed to be behind the human rights violations and repression of marginalised groups in the country.

The US said in in a statement that since 2005 when Byabashaija was appointed as prisons boss, Uganda Prisons Service (UPS) members have engaged in torture and other serious human rights abuse against prisoners held within UPS facilities. 

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“Prisoners have reported being tortured and beaten by Uganda Prisons Service staff and by fellow prisoners at the direction of UPS staff.

Members of vulnerable groups, including government critics and members of Uganda’s LGBTQI+ community, have been beaten and held without access to legal counsel; for example, in a 2020 case, the UPS denied a group of LGBTQI+ persons access to their lawyers and members of the group reportedly endured physical abuse, including a forced anal examination and scalding,” the US statement read.