Former Commissioner General of Uganda Prisons Service Joseph Etima is dead. The retired officer passed on Saturday, June 23, 2018 evening at Nakasero Hospital in Kampala.
Lawyer Caleb Alaka, the Chair of West Nile Development Foundation, has confirmed the demise of Mzee Etima.
In a brief statement, Alaka says they have, “with deep shock, learnt of the death of Joseph Etima , former Commissioner General of Uganda Prisons, and most recently a Commissioner with the Uganda Human Rights Commission”.
He says details of the funeral arrangements shall be shared in due course, calling on the public to “hold the family in prayer during this trying time.”
Bernard Atiku, the MP for Ayivu County in Arua and Chair of West Nile Parliamentary Group, has also confirmed the demise of Etima, describing it as “a very big blow for West Nile.”
Atiku says Etima as a pre-eminent elder whom the region looked to, adding that he was involved in resolving serious conflicts like that in Arua Catholic Diocese pitting Bishop Sabino Odoki against some members of the laity.
Atiku says Joseph Etima was an exceptional and exemplary senior citizen who came from humble beginnings, rising meritoriously through the ranks to serve as Commissioner General of Uganda Prisons, as well as in other capacities.
According to Atiku, the people of West Nile were now eager for the wise counsel of Etima in his retirement, observing that the region is short of elders of Etima’s calibre.
Atiku says the region has lost such a high calibre person whose services were required even more.
The cause of death is yet to be established, pending autopsy.
Brief history of Joseph Etima
Etima also served as a member of the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) . He joined the Uganda Human Rights Commission after retiring as Commissioner General of Prisons with the Uganda Prison Service, a post he held for 17 years from 1988 to 2005.
According to Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) website, Joseph Etima began his career in 1966 with the Uganda Prison Service as a Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Prisons and rose through the ranks serving as a Lecturer from 1967 to 1968, Deputy Commandant from 1968-1969 and Commandant from 1970 to 1973 of the Uganda Prisons Staff College and Training School.
He later joined the administrative ranks of the Uganda Prisons Service when in 1973 to 1975 he served as a Staff Officer at the Prisons Headquarters and was later promoted to a Regional Commissioner of Prisons, Jinja from 1975 to 1976.
Joseph Etima steadily climbed the managerial ladders and from 1976 to 1980, he became the Director of Prisons Farms based at the Prisons Headquarters. He was later promoted to Assistant Commissioner of Prisons, Training Officer and Director Prisons Industries; a post he held for seven years from 1980 to 1987.
He briefly held the post of Assistant Commissioner, Administrator General for a period of four months in 1988, before being prompted to Commissioner General of Prisons in same year. Mr. Joseph Etima therefore served as Chief Executive of the Uganda Prisons Service for close to two decades and gained tremendous managerial experience at senior level. He carried out a number of reforms in the Uganda Prisons Service such as mainstreaming human rights in the institution and introduced community service as an alternative punishment for offenders.
Joseph Etima also served as member of various organizations both in the country and at the international level. He served as Uganda’s representative to the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (Vienna) from 1990 to 1997.
He also served variously as a Member of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Geneva, Board of Governors of the United Nations Institute of Crime Prevention and Treatment of Offenders, Kampala and Commonwealth Commissioners. He held the post of Chairman Central, Eastern and Southern African Prisons Commissioners’ Conference and Vice Chairperson of National Community Orders Committee.
In addition, Joseph Etima was a member of the Penal Reform International, France/UK, International Social Defence, Rome Italy, International Correctional Administrators’ Association, USA and the International Criminal Justice, Illinois, Chicago. He was been a member of the Institute of Scientific and Professional Advisory Council on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Milan since 1992 to date.
Etima attained an Advanced Diploma in Penal Administration from Her majesty’s Prisons Staff College, Wakefield, U.K (1966). He in addition held an Advanced Diploma in Prisons management from the Uganda Prisons Staff College and Training School.
He attained training in the area of human rights when he obtained a Certificate in International Humanitarian Law in 1984 from the United Nations Institute for Human Rights, Strasbourg, France. Mr. Etima also holds a Certificate in International Criminal Justice from the Institute of Criminal justice, Chicago, Illinois.
by Michael Wandati