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The internal affairs minister General Aronda Nyakayirima, cautioned judiciary to take community service order to another level by making it of more impact to community.

Community service order is a devised measure to decongest prison facilities in the country, where minor offenders are sentenced to doing community services instead of being handed custodial sentences.

General Aronda Nyakayirima, planting a tree
General Aronda Nyakayirima, planting a tree

However, Nyakairima who officiated at the launch the devised environmental-centered community services order project, he earmarked with tree planting at the Masaka High court on Saturday noted that with a history of its commencement in Uganda since 1999, the system has not had visible impacts to the community.

He said, although the judiciary claims to have many petty offenders sentenced to community service orders and accomplish the punishments, there are hardly many visible results to show to the public.

Mr. Nyakairima called on the judiciary should cooperate with the respective district security committees to identify those activities that make more impacts to community to be awarded as sentences to such offenders and have them strictly monitored and popularized for public advocacy.

‘We need to make a more serious impact because there is a good hierarchy from national to district and sub country, so can we identify those activities that can be promoted to make visible results,” he urged, instructing RDC’s to involve the magistrates in their security committee discussions.

Although Nyakairima appreciates the approach as suitable towards decongesting the extremely filled Ugandan prisons, there is still much need to prevent more people getting to jail.

He suggests for multi-sectoral measures to combat all other factors contributing to crime, like rampant unemployment, drug abuse, excessive gambling among others.

But in a report by Justice Flavia Ssennoga Anglin, the chairperson of the community service committee in the judiciary, the process mainly focuses at moral rehabilitation of law breakers within their community.

“The new launched project has mainstreamed on environmental protection where the sentenced offenders will be required to massively plant trees along the roads and other public places as an approach to supplement the Go-green campaign undertaken by government to re-afforestate the deforested areas and afforestation,” she explained.

Justice Ssennoga however cited needs to popularize the program, saying this could be the reason community have not been acknowledging it as punishment hence less impact.

Masaka High Court Resident Judge, Margret Oumo Oguli
General Aronda Nyakayirima shaking hands with Masaka High Court Resident Judge

But the Masaka High Court Resident Judge, Margret Oumo Oguli, insists that majority of previously convicted offenders have fully accomplished their community services order sentences and that records indicate very few abscondment

She revealed that last year 86 of 89 people accomplished their sentences in various field while 76 are currently doing their sentences for 2015.

Besides the new program, judiciary in Masaka has in only this year launched sessions of Plea-bargaining and Civil-Case mediation sessions, all intended to decongest the highly strained prisons.

Hon Benny Nmugwanya addressing people
Hon Benny Nmugwanya addressing people