Uganda Prisons Service (UPS) staff have been banned from posting photographs and videos on social media while on duty.
According to directive issued on December 11, 2023 the UPS Commissioner General Dr. Johnson Byabashaija, refers to misuse of social media by staff as the basis for the ban on posting “unprofessional photos and videos” while on duty.
In a press release issued by UPS spokesperson SCP Frank Mayanja Baine, all senior officers must ensure compliance with the directive within staff under their command, and any culprit to the act will be subjected to Prisons Disciplinary procedures.
Mr. Baine said the directive was prompted by actions of some staff who have been abusing the forces’ uniform by posting their videos on TikTok and other social media platforms while dancing or doing all sorts of things.
From UPS Standing Orders Part 1 of 2017, Baine says any staff found culpable of such an act risks a punishment ranging from caution to dismissal from the force considering the magnitude of the offense.
However, the new directive comes just three days after the US government imposed economic sanctions against UPS boss Dr. Johnson Byabashaija over alleged violations of human rights of inmates including torture in the country’s correction facilities.
The statement from US Treasury Department claimed Prisoners have reported being tortured and beaten by Uganda Prisons Service staff and by fellow prisoners at the direction of UPS staff.
“Members of vulnerable groups, including government critics and members of Uganda’s LGBTQI+ community, have been beaten and held without access to legal counsel; for example, in a 2020 case, the UPS denied a group of LGBTQI+ persons access to their lawyers and members of the group reportedly endured physical abuse, including a forced anal examination and scalding,” the US statement adds.
Asked whether the ban on misuse of social media by prison staff is related to use of phones by staff to capture incidents involving inmates, the service spokesperson responded in the negative saying the directive is entirely meant to punish culprits who misuse the forces’ uniform.