Besigye narrates life in prison, attempt to kill him


Inspite of all the resources they deploy and waste, they are utterly incompetent. I was able to beat their security and come to town as a show of defiance.

This is was to show that they were detaining me for no wrong. They showed the usual brutality and later on detained.

I was detained pre-maturely because I offered to open my car and I thought it should not go on. Once I was out, they pretended to show how strong they are by lifting me and then on to their vehicle. They took me to Nalufenya Prison, briefly.

I was then taken to Moroto Prison by air. I spent two nights at Moroto Police station before being charged on the evening of the third night. I have expressed this to court.

While in Moroto station strange things happened. All inmates were transferred and I was the only one in Moroto cells. Special people were transferred from Kampala. Counter terrorism police were the ones in charge of the prison cells.

There was no power or light in the police cells. The main doors was open which I had complained about. They told me it was the DPP who had said it should be opened. The RDC came to see if my welfare was all good. I told him all was well.

Later on in the night I noticed some movements in my cell. I had a torch. I got up and torched to see a black uniformed fellow hurry out of the window which was enclosing my cell. My concern which i mentioned to the leaders of the cell and court is that the fellow who jumped out of the window had a mask on.

This is a matter that I will continue to press on. Charging me in Moroto was irregular.


Briefly, I would like to talk about my stay in prison and what happens when I come out.

Firstly, all of us here who chose to oppose a dictatorship of this country must have known the consequences of our actions. Every one that chooses to oppose the dictatorship knows there will be torture, incarceration and some times death.

Whenever I am arrested, I am at peace with myself, I am psychologically prepared for torture. I have been peaceful in mind and body.

The biggest challenge is while you are still in police custody because the police is in direct line with the dictator. Many are detained for over 48 hours, negotiated with for those who are politicians. If you decide to join us this is what we can give you etc. I was relieved when I was taken to Moroto prison ward. The biggest challenge is overcrowding. We were 144 inmates. Every part of the cell is occupied.

A suspect on remand should be able to enjoy all liberty. He should be able to even write a news paper article or message to be put on the social media but they could not allow. These are issues of serious concern which are not a fault of prisons but the law.

The standing orders that govern the prisons have not been reviewed. These were colonial orders. When we gained independence these orders were not changed. I have taken it to myself to challenge these orders because they are illegal and need to change.

There is no way a person on remand cannot transact business. I am a business man and I should be able to do so.

Remand prisoners spend so much time on remand. Many of remand prisoners can stay on remand for over 2-10 years. There must be a limit or cap for when one can stay on remand. There are people in prison that are on remand for 7 years. The greatest majority in Luzira are on remand for over 3 years.

In Moroto, no court has sat at all for over two year. This is really serious. Incidentally, if you are sent to 10 years in prison and have stayed for 6 years without trial, you will spend 4 years as a sentence.

The money is spent on kifeesi police not on courts and proper legal mechanisms.

Some people have been on remand on minister’s orders for over 20 years with no review. We buy them yellow uniforms while they are on remand. I must commend the Uganda Red Cross Society as they have helped on welfare.

When I was last in Luzira, many prisoners were dying. Some dying of malaria, diarrhoea (NRM diseases) I would like to thank the Red Cross for this work that has helped to improve sanitation at Luzira.

You have heard of the Al shabab “terrorists”. One of the suspects was not with them. He had been removed by some leaders of the police. Once you are in prison, you are not in Police’s hands. Court must give an order but routinely, these security agencies go to prison and get people out of prison, illegally to turn them as state witnesses.

I had accounts from some prisoners taken out of prison to meet some high ranking officers in Government and UPDF. These are illegal and Prisons have to say no but because the institutions have weakened, prisons officers have to comply. The institutions have been monopolised.

Kizza Besigye, the author, is a Uganda opposition leader and former presidential candidate 

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