“Jailed Mabirizi cannot have access to internet due to security reasons .” Uganda prisons

The Assistant Officer in Charge of Luzira prison, Herbert Kaheeru has told the High Court in Kampala that an inmate cannot be given internet services while under their custody because of security reasons.

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Kaheeru affirmed the position while appearing before the Criminal Division Judge Isaac Muwata, to explain why it was not possible to give jailed lawyer Male Mabirizi internet services as he had requested.

This is in the case where Mabirizi wants the court to cancel bail for Pastor Aloysius Bujjingo, the Director of House of Prayer Ministries and his lover Susan Makula, whom he is accusing of having contracted marriage that breached the Marriage Act.

Mabirizi argues that Bujjingo legally married Teddy Naluswa on December 20th 2003 and before the dissolution of their marriage, the Pastor went on and married Makula under customary law on December 7th 2021 in Kawuku Katabi. The case was later taken over by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the accused granted bail.

Dissatisfied with decision by the DPP to take over the case, Mabirizi challenged it. He also filed an application in which he said that if court wants to release Bujjingo and Makula on bail, the Pastor should pay a security bond of 2 billion shillings and also stop making threats of death and violence against him as a witness and private prosecutor.

But the bail was granted and Mabirizi’s applications dismissed on grounds that bail is a discretion by the judicial officer and that the law gives the DPP power to take over and continue all criminal proceedings.

Mabirizi thus appealed in the High Court seeking orders that Bujjingo and Makula’s bail should be cancelled because he was not given a right to fair hearing.

But for a number of different reasons including failure to have internet services to do research and continue with his case properly, Mabirizi’s case has a little bit dragged on.

In the previous session, the court summoned the prison authorities to come and explain if it’s possible to provide Mabirizi with internet services such that he can continue with his case.

However, when the Superintendent of Prisons Kaheeru appeared before Justice Muwata on Tuesday, he said they don’t give internet to prisoners. He indicated that for the prisoners who want to do research, they have a well-stocked library that students pursuing university studies in prison use.

The court has heard that where there is missing information in the prison library, they have legal aid defenders who help prisoners to go outside and search for that information on behalf of the inmates.

According to Kaheeru, the reason internet is not provided to inmates is because of security reasons and they believe once it’s opened up, there is a likelihood that inmates can commit crimes.

But Mabirizi was not ready to respond to what Kaheeru has told court. He instead asked court to grant him a short adjournment for him to come up with a proper response.

As a result, the case in which Timothy Amerit is representing the state, was accordingly adjourned to May 17th 2022.

Mabirizi is currently in prison serving 18 months jail term handed to him by High Court Judge Musa Ssekaana on February 15th, 2022 after being found guilty of contempt of court for his actions of continuing to use his social media platforms to abuse judicial officers.