DAA News Network

Uganda: Demand to release prisoners found not guilty because of severe mental health problems

Posted 02/5-11 at 14.49

Human Rights Watch has written to the Ugandan minister of justice asking that he release 11men who remain in prison although they had been found not guilty because of impaired mental health (‘by reason of insanity'). They had all been sent to prison to await a decision by the minister on where they should be treated. One person had been waiting in prison for 16 years, another for 10 years.

Having failed to designate a place of safe custody where they can get treatment and their rights can be independently safeguarded, the justice minister should order their release, Human Rights Watch said.

"No one can be lawfully detained indefinitely, awaiting the decision of a member of the executive to determine their fate," said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. "Every detainee should have the right to have their case determined by an independent authority, not a politician whenever he gets around to it."

The long-term detention of people with mental health problems without resolution violates Uganda's obligations as a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.





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