Edward Mpagis egen berÃ¤ttelse
Mpagi Edward Edmary
My story is for the brothers in Uganda that are still on death row.
In 1981, I was arrested along with my cousin brother Mr. Fred Masembe (rest in peace). I served 20 years in jail for the alleged murder of a person who was later found to be alive.
We only saw our lawyer twice before our hearing. As a result of bribes we were sentenced to death. At that time my English was not so good. I needed a translator. My brother did not know any English at all.
I spent 18 years on death row and 2 years on remand. My cousin brother and I were both convicted in this case. By then in Uganda it was very hard to reverse the decision of the judge, so my family followed the case up, until they lost hope in securing our release. My brother and I could not believe that a legal system would convict innocent people.
In Uganda, conditions for death row prisoners are cruel, degrading and inhumane. We were always denied medicines. There were lice flies and other vermin in the prison and this resulted in many illnesses and many prisoners died from these illnesses. In 1984 my brother developed malaria and stomach complications because of inadequate food and skin conditions.
I pleaded with the prison authorities to give my brother medication and treatment. However they told me that we were brought to death row to face death, that it was a waste of tax payer’s money to treat him. My brother died in 1985. This really scared me. But life continued.
Life is terrible on death row in Uganda, Africa. No one was ever given any notice that they would be executed. Each time we were taken by complete surprise. We lived in complete fear of any unusual activity from the wardens. During my stay in prison there were five rounds of executions. The last one was in 1999 in which the state executed 28 prisoners. But to make matters worse for the inmates, execution was carried out in the very nearby place, the crying of the inmates was closely heard and movements were seen. This made inmates life so complicated.
I remember my best friend and roommate who was dragged out by prison wardens to be executed. He cried and resisted but he was overpowered after he was hit on the head by fierce wardens. Everybody was in fear at that time. It took us years to be relieved of that incident. But still I keep remembering his last words.
The coffins for the prisoners to be executed were made in the prison. During the three days before executions, we could all hear the making of coffins. The black hoods and clothes for prisoners to be executed were made by other prisoners. We knew how many people were to be executed by counting the number of hoods being made.
All this made us depressed and stressed. The people selected for execution were taken to the gallows, which were above our cells. They kept calling out to us and singing hymns to inform us of their fate. Many of them went to the gallows pleading their innocence. Others admitted their crimes and made peace with their enemies and the Lord. Others insisted that while they committed offences, their co-accused were innocent and wrongly convicted.
For three days prior to execution we were obliged to stay in our cells. During this time we were forced to live, sleep and eat in the same conditions. No one had any appetite for food, sleep or conversation. There was normally dead silence and we thought about our own executions. Some prisoners then attempted suicide, even if they were not going to be executed then.
Executions normally took place at night. When a prisoner reached the gallows, we would all listen. After a few moments, we would hear a loud sound like a sudden explosion, as the trap doors of the gallows spring open and the prisoners are dropped to their death. We would then hear the corpses fall with a loud bang on the death table.
After my release, my family had dispersed. My wife had died and I have since lost track of two of my children because of the 1985 guerilla war in Uganda. I don’t know whether they are still alive. I have four children left — two from my previous family and two from my current family. Unfortunately the two children from my first family had no support to go to school in my absence and so now they are illiterate, which hurts me so much.
Police took us to a community prison in Masaka, we thought the authorities were going to make an investigation and we could be released shortly. As community heads, they had a right to hold anybody as suspects.
We were produced in the High Court but we were surprised that High Court Judge said we were on a murder charge; that we had murdered ourÂ neighborÂ William George Wandyaka and we had to face a death sentence. We realized the Judge was bribed to sentence us to death. There were no investigation in our case and we were sent to Luzira Maximum Security Prison to face death, we realized the chairman was doing this to punish our family /our father.
Later weÂ made an appeal in the Court of Appeal, the Judge in this Court said that the High Court Judge who sentenced us to death, Justice Katinti, was a respected judge with a sound mind, and they could not reverse his decision. I tried to convince the court to shift the hearing to the village so that the community could testify but I failed to convince the court, they sent us back to death row.
This was our final hope, because it is the last court in Uganda. We were filled with fear and surprised about the decision of a respected court. We had to go back to face death. I lost hope completely because it is very hard to reverse the death sentence; though my parents tried to secure my release they failed and gave up on me.
All this was happening while George William Wandyaka was in hiding enjoying life in Jinja one of the district in Uganda.
Most of the prison authorities knew that I was innocent after a local journalist had spoken about my story on TV station. This also helped me survive hanging; manyÂ people knew I was innocent.
One day we received visitors in prison and I explained to them my situation, they went back to the village and made all the necessary investigations and submitted a report to the attorney general in Uganda, who forwarded it to the president of Uganda. I was pardoned. I had spent 18 years on death row and two years on remand, innocently.
I was not compensated for the time I spent in Jail and nobody said â€œsorry â€œ.
I wanted to sue the government but I feared for my brothers and sister who need to be forgiven, this could discourage the state from forgiving others.Â Besides it could cause more insecurity in my life.
When I came out of prison I made efforts to meet George William Wandyaka, but I failed.Â We used to speak on the phone;Â rumorsÂ went to him that I was going to use the police to arrest him. He thought I was angry about him and I would do anything for revenge.Â So he avoided any contact with me. I wanted to do a video with him to help me in my fight against the death penalty.Unfortunately George William Wandyaka died of Aids 2 years after my release.
My work in the abolition of death penalty; I joined the international abolition movement working to end the death penalty. I have worked with ECPM in France/End to capital punishment movement. I have worked with Amnesty international atÂ the United Nations in New York campaigning for a moratorium on executions in all UN member states and it was a positive campaign. I represented Uganda in the 3rd World Congress against the Death Penalty in France. I have talked about death penalty in United States working with the Journey of Hopeâ€¦from Violence to Healing. I have been in Italy working with the Community of Sentegdio, speaking in various cities in Italy.Â Also I have travelled in Africa working to end the death penalty.Edward
Challenging the death penalty in Uganda by Mpagi Edward EdmaryÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â
a)Â On or about the 5th day June 1981, I together with my cousin brother Mr. Fred Masembe (RIP) was arrested.
b)Â At that time, we were residents of Butenge Sub-county, Masaka District.
c)Â My parents, as well as the parents of my co-accused were also arrested, although they were later on released.
d)Â We were innocent of this crime.
e)Â We were charged and our trial was in Masaka High Court. We were represented by a State Appointed lawyer.
f)Â We only met our lawyer 2 (two) times before the hearing.
g)Â At that time I had some rudimentary working knowledge of the English language, but I still needed a translator. My brother did not know any English at all.
h)Â We had a full trial and the state called several witnesses.
i)Â After several days, the Judge and the Assessors informed us that the state had proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt and was fully satisfied that we had committed the offences.
j)Â We were convicted on 29th April 1982 and sentenced to death.
k)Â Soon after the conviction, we were transported to the Luzira condemned section.
l)Â We appealed to the then Court of Appeal, which was the Highest Court in Uganda at that time.Â On 18th October 1983 the Court of Appeal upheld our conviction as well as the inevitable mandatory death sentence.
m)Â We applied for the prerogative of mercy.
n)Â On 28th August 1985, my brother died in the condemned section. He died of asthma, stomach pains, and depreciation, physical and mental anguish. He had been denied medical attention by the prisons authorities, who stated that since he was a condemned prisoner who was due to be executed anyway, they could not waste time or money prison staff were not concernedÂ atÂ out the welfare of the inmates.
o)Â On 12th July 2000, I was set free under Presidential pardon.
p)Â I had spent 18 (eighteen) years on death row for crime I did not commit.4.Â When I was sentenced to death by the High Court and the Court of Appeal, the following happened to me:-
a)Â I was numb and paralyzed with shock and horror.
b)Â Â I fainted and had to be physically carried out of the Court.
c)Â Â I fell ill and had to be hospitalized in the prison hospital for some time.
d)Â My brother and I could not believe that a legal system could convict innocent people.Â While on remand, we had been told that innocent people could get convicted but we did not believe it until it happened to us.Â Â Â
e)Â My brother was even more affected by the conviction and he became weaker and weaker.
f)Â From the time of my conviction, I developed numerous diseases and illnesses like high blood pressure, poor eyesight and numerous other diseases.5.Â The conditions of the condemned section of the prison where death row prisoners are incarcerated amount to cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment. During the time I spent on death row, the following were the conditions on the death row.
a)Â Since my conviction by the High Court in 1982, I was incarcerated in the condemned section in Upper Prison, Luzira.
b)Â At that time, we prisoners in the condemned section were incarcerated in the gallows itself (Section E).
c)Â The death row prisoners who were incarcerated with me at that time included my late brother Fred Masembe, the late Kassim, (Cosma) Obura and others.
d)Â We were also incarcerated with prisoners who were in Luzira by virtue of Detention Orders. These included the late Hon. Balaki Kirya, the late Mr. Agetta and the late Dr. Ssali.
e)Â We were incarcerated in Section E because the rest of the condemned section was populated with prisoners who had been dubbed rebels and prisoners of war.
f)Â We had no toilet facilities and we had to rely on buckets/chamber-pots. Each room had 1 (one) pot.
g)Â At that time (1982), we were not allowed out of our cells all day say for a few a minutes to empty our chamber pots/buckets.
h)Â On independence Day 1982, the then President released 120 (one thousand two hundred) prisoners from Luzira, including most of the said rebels and prisoners of war. We were transferred from the gallows to the condemned section proper.
i)Â Each sub-section of the condemned section had section leaders who were entrusted with solving problems/complaints.
j)Â From the time I was convicted and sentenced to death until I left Luzira prison, I was the Chief Catechist of the condemned prisoners.
k)Â Each cell had 4-5 (four-to-five) prisoners, in cells meant for 1 (one) prisoner.
l)Â The quality of food was atrocious, and quantity of the food was very little.Â The food provided was posh and beans, which were provided once a day. Moreover, the food was not brought at the same time. For example, we could get posh at 8.00 am, the bean soup at 12.00 noon and the beans at 2.00 pm. We are expected to ration this food for the whole day.Â In many cases, a change of diet meant going without food.
m)Â At night, when we were locked up in our cells, we had difficulty in reconciling our feeding to our use of the chamber-pots to ease ourselves. It was degrading for someone to be eating while a cellmate was using the chamber pot.
n)Â Although there was flowing water, we needed a doctorâ€™s prescription to get hot water or salt.
o)Â We were given 1 (one) set of uniform, either white or yellow.Â At the time I was incarcerated, the prisons department did not have adequate funds to provide the uniforms, and so I had to use my own means to get then uniforms.
p)Â From the time, was incarcerated in 1982, we used to have 2 (two) blankets to sleep on. We had no beds, no mattresses and no bed sheets. It was only in 1996 that we acquired mattresses.
q)Â We used to sleep naked since we were not allowed to own any clothes other than the prison issue. It was not until 1996 that we were allowed to own underpants. There were no beds in Luzira condemned prison.
r)Â From the time I was imprisoned until Mr. Joseph Etima became the Commissioner of Prisons in 1991, all the prisoners in the condemned section were allowed only 48 (forty eight) minutes out of their cells. This period was mainly to enable us to empty our chamber pots. It was divided into 2 (two), with 24 (twenty four) minutes per cell being in the morning and the rest in the evening.
s)Â After 1991, the exercise and other time was increased. We were then woken up at 7.00am, allowed a few hours of exercise and locked up in our cells by 4.00pm. This continues up to this day in Luzira.
t)Â The lights in the cells were not switched off at night, making it impossible for us to sleep.
u)Â Some prison wardens/guards took delight in taunting, tormenting and teasing us, constantly reminding us of our impending fate and telling us gruesome tales of executions that had gone wrong. Some of the guards did not treat us as human beings.
v)Â At all times, we were kept under surveillance by the guards, and we were subject to impromptu spot checks. These spot checks were by the Search Party Squad.Â This is the most notorious squad in the prisons, comprised of sadistic prison warders. They are normally drawn from the Prison Training School. They mentally torture the death row inmates. When they are undertaking a search of a cell, there are normally 20 (twenty) of them who stand outside the cell, body search the inmates, send them out of the cell and then go and completely ransack the cell.Â They normally used to mix urine (from the chamber pots) with our water, pour urine on the floor, mix our sugar with salt, deliberately and maliciously destroy our documents, tear up our clothes and break our property like flasks. After a search by this square, it would normally take about 3 (three) months for us to recover.
w)Â During most of the 1980â€™s we were only allowed visitors once a month, on Wednesdays. The visitors would have to first register with the Prisons Headquarters before being allowed to see us.
x)Â Before 1997, we were only allowed visitors on Wednesday. After 1997, we were allowed visitors both on Mondays and Wednesdays. The visiting hours were from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm, for a period of not more than 30 (thirty) minutes. The few and far between family visits reminded us of what we were missing in the outside world.
y)Â The vast majority of the death row prisoners did not receive any visitors or at all. This was because most prisoners were peasants brought to the Luzira condemned section from up-country and their relatives were unable to afford the fares to come and visit them in prison.
z)Â We were not allowed to have physical contact with our visitors and communication with visitors on death row is through a screen of bars and a wire sieve.
aa)Â The body searchers that our families had to endure before being allowed to see us also added to our misery.Â Ladies who came to visit us were particularly degraded. They were searched by female prison officers without any privacy.Â The prison officers would insert their gloved fingers into the ladies private parts in full view of other female visitors.Â Afterwards, the said prison officer would insert the same unwashed and un-cleaned glove into the private parts of another lady visitor. This actively discouraged our female visitors from visiting us.Â This was cruel, inhuman and degrading to both our lady visitors and us.
bb)Â We were segregated and did not have contact with other prisoners in Luzira.
cc)Â There was inadequate medical care and little ventilation. We were constantly denied medicines, under the guise of poverty of theÂ prison administration as well as the impression that since we prisoners on death row meant to be executed anyway, there was no need for adequate medication. As a result thereof, priority in medication was given to prisoners who were not on death row, leading to incidents of use of unsterilized needles on death row inmates that facilitated the spread of AIDS and other diseases.
dd)Â The hygiene of the death row was so poor and we were constantly surrounded by lice, scurvy, flies and other vermin, leading to periodic outbreaks of cholera, diarrhea, dysentery and tuberculosis. The epidemics affected the lives of the death row prisoners as follows.
1.Â In 1983 â€“ 1984, there was an acute lack of vitamins in the prison, leading to the death of 6 (six) prisoners including the late Wambua and the late Emmanuel Ethomu.
2.Â In October 1991, there was a dysentery epidemic in the condemned section, leading to the death of about 66 (sixty six) death row prisoners. All of these were prisoners who had eaten the prisons food.
3.Â In 1995, there was a red-eye epidemic, which led to many prisoners including myself getting poor eye sight.
4.Â Over 180 (one hundred eighty) death row prisoners died before the executions during the period when I was on death row.
ee)Â The nearness and whiteness of the walls in the condemned section of Luzira caused many death row inmates to develop eye-sight defects.
ff)Â The gallows themselves are situated within the condemned section of Luzira prison, and the daily reality of seeing the steps that lead up to the gallows caused us fears and nightmares.6.Â I know that the conditions IÂ have described above are the same/similar to the current conditions of the condemned section in Luzira.7.Â Â I was an inmate of the condemned section of Luzira prison from 1982 to 2000 and hence I was present when the 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996 and 1999 executions were respectively carried out.
8.Â I was present in 1989 when 3 (three) death row prisoners were executed, which prisoners included the late Thomas Waiganda and the late Hussein Mugagga.
9.Â I was present in 1991 when 9 (nine) prisoners were executed, which prisoners included my cellmate the late Ben Kitanywa, the late John William Etasono, the late Milton Ongom, the later â€œMuzunguâ€ Mugisha, the late Ronald Omono, the late Nicholas Okello respectively. The late Augustine Musana was also scheduled to be executed, but he had died earlier of other causes.
10.Â I was present in 1993 when 9 (nine) prisoners were executed, who were the late Silas Sajjabi, the late Joseph Kizza, the late Mr. Sentamu, the late Kelly Omuge, the late Ka****t Ssebugwawo, the late Babalanda, the late Ikulu***, the late Robert Kasolo and the late Musisi respectively.
11.Â I was present in 1996 when 3 (three) death row prisoners were executed, which prisoners were the late Dominic Oboth, the late Salim Mulumba and the late Sula Ndamagye respectively.
12.Â I was present in 1999 when 28 (twenty eight) prisoners were executed. These included the late Hamisi Katalikawe, the late Sylvesto Tugugu, the late James Kiyingi, the late John Fisher Igga, the late Charles Lwanga Kimbugwe, the late Elizafari Kasakya, the late John Bageya, the late Steven Sunday, the late Mr. Lubega, the late Galasiano Kintu, the late William Bataringaya, the late Madard Tindarwesire, the late Cisto Obona, the late Celestino Olango, the late Odong-Piny, the late Benson Komakech, the late William Kagarikakya, the late Joseph Andama,Â the late Vincent Owino, the late Yefesa Kamali and the late Leo Nyandwoha respectively. The late John Zimbe and the late Matayo Barigyenda were also scheduled to be executed, but they had died earlier of other causes.
13.Â At each and every one of those executions by hanging, the following events happened.
a)Â There was never any notice of execution. Each time we were taken by complete surprise. All we noticed were incidents like changing of the prison warders, the restriction of our movements, the making of lists of the prisoners who were resident in every room, the unexpected roll calls, the repair of the execution machine and the orders to us to enter our cells, the repair of theÂ execution machine and the orders to us to enter our cells. We lived in a complete fear of any unusual activity, and the slightest deviation from our normal routine increased our disquiet, sense of foreboding, restlessness and unease.
b)Â Without warning, the prison wardens would suddenly call for lock up before the usual time. After we had been locked up in our cells, the wardens would come and call out names at random. At this time we would all be very scared and we would be praying that our names are omitted. When the warders came and stop outside a cell door, the prisoner in the particular cell usually ended up panicking and soiling themselves. This was an extremely disturbing and nervous period for the prisoners. When the warders finally finished their selections, the rest of us normally sighed with relief, knowing that we would live to die another day.
c)Â Those that were selected for death and called out of their cells are dragged out of their cells while weeping, screening, wailing, kicking and screaming. They were hand cuffed and leg irons were put on their legs. At that time we saw them for the last time, and we knew that they were being led to their executions. These sights increased our mental anguish, agony, grief, heartache and distress.
d)Â The selected prisoners were then lead upstairs to the death chambers. We could hear them crying, wailing and singing hymns.Â A funeral atmosphere engulfed in the entire condemned section.Â Their upcoming execution serves to remind us of our impending fate.
e)Â The execution process took up to 3 (three) days and during these days we were confined to our cells.Â We would only be allowed out of our cells when all the prisoners due to be executed had actually been executed and certified dead.
f)Â During this period of forced confinement, we were stationery. We were forced to live, sleep and eat in the same confined conditions, with human excrement overflowing, and there was no appetite for food, sleep or conversation. There was normally a dead silence and each of us was obliged to thank about our possible up-coming executions. This was cruel, inhuman and degrading, and some prisoners who were not due to be executed attempted to commit suicide.
g)Â The coffins for the prisoners to be executed were made in the prison carpentry section directly behind Section-A. During the 3 (three) days before the actual executions, each and every one of the prisoners in Section-A could hear the making of the coffins.Â This caused depression, anxiety, mental anguish and stress to many of us.
h)Â The black hoods and overall-like clothes to be worn by the prisoners to be executed were made by non-condemned prisoners in the tailoring section.Â This enable those prisoners to know that an execution was scheduled and, depending on the number of hoods and overall-like clothes required, know how many condemned prisoners were due to be executed. This led to a lot of nervous tension, strain and worry and trauma amongst the prisoners who were not on death row.
i)Â Those elected for execution were taken to the gallows, which were above our cells in Section E of the condemned section of Luzira prison.Â They kept calling out to us and singing hymns to inform us of their fate. Many of them went to the gallows pleading their innocence. Others admitted their crimes, and made peace with their enemies and the Lord.Â Other insists that while they committed the offences, their co-accused were innocent and wrongly convicted.
j)Â This process continued for the next 3 (three) days, and we could hear everything taking place in the death chambers above.
k)Â Throughout this period, we could hear the warders reading out to the selected prisoners the crimes they were convicted of and the amount of time they have left to their execution. This slow countdown was repeated every hour for the full 3 (three) days. It increased our sense of fear, apprehension, dread and fright. We can only imagine what it did to the inmates who were going to be executed.
l)Â During those 3 (three) days, the prisoners scheduled to be executed normally wrote notes/chits/letters to us fellow condemned prisoners who are not scheduled to be executed that day.Â These notes/chits/letters normally served as their last Wills and Testaments.Â The prisoners were normally pitifully poor and all they had to will are items like flasks, soap, bedroom slippers, cups and their threadbare clothes.Â These were usually willed to their death row colleagues. They also asked us to send messages to their families and loved ones.Â These notes/chits/letters were given to the prison warders who passed them on to us.
m)Â When the three-day waiting period was completed, those in the death chambers were led to the dressing room and then to the gallows one by one. This was usually late in the evening or at night.Â The others due to be executed used to recount the proceedings through songs and hymns. We who were not due to be executed would listen to these songs and decipher the message contained therein.Â They would tell us what was happening in clear, descriptive language. We would thus get to know who has been taken to be executed and what was being done to him at every moment. They would tell us the names of who were being led to the dressing room. They would then hear the selected ones crying and wailing, and we would get to hear every step they would take, shackled, chained and dressed and led to the gallows. We would then hear the selected one dragging his chains on the floor as he headed towards the gallows themselves. We would then be told that 3 (three) prisoners are to be executed at a time.
n)Â When the selected ones reached the gallows, we would be told of the further developments and how they were mounted on the gallows. The entire condemned section would then fall silent. After a few moments, we would hear a loud sound like a sudden explosion, as the trap doors of the gallows spring open and the prisoners dropped to their death.Â We then hear the corpses fall with a loud bang on the death table.
o)Â The executions were normally in the dead of the night and all the prisoners in the condemned section, especially prisoners in Section D (which is directly below the gallows in Section E), and prisoners in Section A (across from Section E) respectively could vividly hear the cries and pleadings of the prisoners being executed, the sounds of the hammer being applied to prisoners who had not died and the fall of the human corpses of the executed prisoners.
p)Â Soon thereafter, we would hear the activities of the guards loading the corpses into the coffins and followed by the hammering of nails into the coffins. All this often occurs in the dead of the night.
q)Â This cycle would be repeated until the last person was executed.
r)Â Since all death row inmates are known to each other, we all knew the prisoners executed, and we can still remember the last words of our executed colleagues.
s)Â The acute psychological torture of not knowing when it will be our turns to be executed made some of us lose our sanity and increased our angst, apprehension, disquietude and distress.
t)Â The trauma of the executions themselves and their dehumanizing effect on the surviving condemned prisoners made living in the condemned section of Luzira prison after each execution a living hell.
u)Â The treatment and slaughter of human beings are like cows in an abattoir is completely dehumanizing, and amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
v)Â After the executions, there was usually blood on the walls and in some parts of the compound and the condemned section.
w)Â After the executions, many prison warders got mentally disturbed and a large number of them ended up resigning, being transferred from the condemned section or even dying. Instances are the following:-
1)Â After the 1996 executions, Sergeant Warder Reuben Afidra went mad and died.
2)Â After the 1999 executions, Paul Olinga, the prison electrician who ensured that the electricity in Section E, the gallows, was working, died.
3)Â After the 1999 executions, the prison warder who nailed the coffins after the executions died.
4)Â After the 1999 executions, Sergeant Omunyokol, the prison warder who told the inmates the counter down to their deaths, died
5)Â After the 1999 executions, Principal Officer-in-charge of the condemned Section Tom Olwa, who was directly responsible for picking up the prisoners from their cells before their executions, died.
x)Â Sometimes, the prison warders told us that some prisoners were killed by hammers and other instruments after they failed to die by hanging on the first attempt.
y)Â There was a constant fear that we lived with after every execution, not knowing each morning whether this would be the day we would be executed.
14.Â Â My personal experiences regarding some the executions were as follows:-
a)Â Just before the 1989 executions, 1 (one) person was pardoned and 3 (three) others were called out with him. I was also called out of the cells with the recently pardoned Abdullah Nasur. At that time we thought that our end had come and we were terrified, alarmed and frightened. I soiled myself, it turned out that we were required by the prison authorities on other matters. The other 3 (three) prisoners were, however, executed. During that execution, everybody in the condemned section got dysentery.
b)Â Just before the 1991 executions, some death row prisoners (including Elias Wanyama and Kasana) had their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment. The very next day, as we were having a thanksgiving service for them at 2.00 pm, we were ordered to go to our cells and locked up. There were so many new prison warders. The warders came to my cell, and I panicked and was horrified. They called out my cellmate Ben Kitanywa and that was the last I was of him. He was dragged kicking and screaming and it took over 10 (ten) warders to subdue him and take him away from the cell. Even then I could hear his cries and his attempts to fight the warders who were leading him to his death. He was executed.
15.Â While in the condemned section of Luzira prison, inmates develop a bond/brotherhood where they start trusting one another and reveal their innermost thoughts, information and secrets. Some of them honestly confess that they are guilty of the offences they are charged with. Others maintain theirÂ innocence.Â Some condemned prisoners who were executed clearly insisted that they were innocent of the crimes they were executed for. These included the following:-
a)Â The late Steven Sunday and the late Lubega (RIP). These were executed in 1999. Lubega was a fish-cleaner at Lake Albert , while Sunday was hunter-gatherer. Lubega met up with Sunday at the latterâ€™s home and offered to take him to Lake Albert to make a better living. Sunday agreed. As they walked from Sundayâ€™s home to Lake Albert (being too poor to afford taxi/bus fare), they passed a village where someone had been murdered.Â Being strangers, they were arrested and charged with the crime.Â They did not even know what the village was called and had never seen the deceased. They were eventually convicted and executed in 1999.
b)Â The late Medard Tindarwesire and the late William Kagirikakya. These were brothers from Kabale District. Due to scarcity of land and poverty, Tindarwesire migrated to Bunyoro and Kagirikikya remained behind on the family land. One day Kagirikikya had a quarrel with a neighbor and after a fight, killed the neighbor. Then he fled the scene of crime.Â Two days later, Tindarwesire arrived from Bunyoro to visit his brother. On finding his brotherâ€™s house un-locked, he went in and made himself at home. Soon thereafter, he was arrested by Local Government officials who asked him where his brother was.Â Not knowing where his brother was, and not even knowing what the problem was, Tindarwesire did not say a word.Â He was arrested. A couple of weeks later his brother was also arrested.Â They were jointly charged with murder.Â At the trial, Kagirikikya told the court that his brother was innocent, but the court chose to disbelieve him thinking that he just wanted to exonerate his brother.Â They were convicted and their convictions were upheld by all subsequent courts. They were executed in 1999.
c)Â The late Sowedi Kanyunyuzi, the late Bashir Kanyunyuzi and the late Hamisi Katalikawe. These were brothers. Sowedi Kanyunyuzi was arrested and charged with murder. His brothers were arrested when they came to visit him in prison. They were all convicted of murder and their convictions were upheld by the subsequent courts.Â Sowedi Kanyunyuzi informed us that although he was guilty of the crime, his brothers were innocent. They were all executed in 1999.
d)Â The late Yefesa Kamali. Someone was severally beaten up by robbers and on fleeing for his life, died at Kamaliâ€™s home. He was arrested, charged with murder and convicted. His convictions were upheld by the subsequent courts. He insisted that he was innocent. He was executed in 1999.
e)Â The late Elizafari Kasakya and the later John Bageya. They also proclaimed their innocence but they were executed in 1999.
17.Â Some of the condemned prisoners who are still on death row confided in me that they are innocent of the crimes they were convicted of. They are the following:-
a)Â Joseph Kyeyune. He is a victim of his uncles wishing to take over his (Kyeyuneâ€™s) fatherâ€™s land.
b)Â Isaiah Bikumu.Â His was a case of self defense and he ought to have been convicted of manslaughter. He was misadvised by his state brief lawyer and ended up being convicted of murder.
c)Â Silas Kisembo. This is a prisoner who is totally illiterate. His was a case that should have been manslaughter, but he was wrongly advised by his state brief lawyer and ended being convicted of murder.
18.Â From the time I was sentenced to death the following events happened to my family.
a)Â Since I was the sole breadwinner at home. My family was left to fend for themselves and eventually suffered from poor feeding and poor health.
b)Â My family suffered from psychological torture, stress, rejection, depression, hate, loneliness, withdrawal and anger towards the state and society at large, as they knew that I had been unjustly convicted.
c)Â My brother died on death row for a crime he did not commit and this still traumatizes me and our family.
d)Â My wife died in 1988.
e)Â 5 (five) of my 9 (nine) children died. My surviving children were not educated because I was in prison and their futures look bleak.
f)Â Even when I was released from prison, my surviving children and I cannot relate to each other.
g)Â The stigma on having been on death row has not left me and my family and I believe it will stay with us for the rest of our natural lives.
h)Â Up to today, there are still some people who shudder at mere*** mention of my name, saying that since I was a former death row prisoner, I must have been guilty.
19.Â I was innocent and the trauma of spending 18 (eighteen) years of my life on death row continues to haunt me to this day. I mourn for my late brother who died as a result of this wrongful conviction.
20.Â I am still traumatized up to to-day by the fact that during the time I was incarcerated, there were 5 (five) executions and I could very easily have been one of the victims of any one of those executions.
21.Â Upon release from prison, I with a group of former death row inmates formed Christian prison ministry-Uganda, aiming at reaching the prisoners with the gospel, helping prisoners and ex-prisoners with spiritual and material support, starting up self help projects for the ex-prisoners, helping the prisoners families with the basic necessities of life ,like education to their children, medical care, shelter food and clothing, sensitizing people about the dangers of death penalty and need for abolition
22.Â Since I was released from death row,Â I with a group of former death-row inmates become seriously involved in the struggle to eliminate the death penalty. In particular, we have formed CHRISTIAN PRISON MINISTRY-Uganda, to help the prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families, live a meaningful life.
23.Â I have also undertaken a 2 (two) year course IN MINISTRY/Bible at the Kiyinda MityanaÂ Â and I am currently ministering in different churches ,telling fellow brothers and sisters what God did for me while on death row.
24.Â Since I was released from death row, I have not been arrested or charged with any crime or misdemeanor, and I know of no other former death row prisoner who has since been convicted with any crime or misdemeanor.
25.Â I know from interaction with fellow death row prisoners that some of them are innocent of the crimes they were convicted of.
26.Â I know from interaction with prisoners on death row that any of the said prisoners who were guilty of the offences they were convicted of are now fully repentant and rehabilitated and they are no longer dangerous to society.
27.Â I spent 18 (eighteen) years on death row and I know that it is better for a condemned prisoner to spend long periods of time in jail than to be sentenced to death.
28.Â I know that the death penalty is a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and that it should be abolished in Uganda and be replaced by a more humane, corrective and reformatory punishment.
29.Â What is stated above is true to the best of my knowledge.
30.Â Though I went through all this, the person the state claimed I killed was still living, while I was suffering in the prison.
Wherefore I swear this Affidavit in support of the Petition to declare the death penalty unconditional in Uganda.