Ugandan authorities on Monday banned prison staff from using their mobile phones during the World Cup in Qatar, warning that inmates could take advantage of the “excitement” surrounding the competition to try to escape.
“The start of the FIFA World Cup on November 20, 2022 and its excitement may lead to prisoner escape,” said Frank Mayanga Payne, a spokesman for the General Authority for Prisons, in a statement.
The memo added that “staff should not come to work with their phones as they will be a distraction and interfere with the monitoring level”, and ordered prison officials to tighten security in areas “where inmates can watch football”.
Large-scale prison escapes are common in Ugandan prisons, which are often overcrowded.
In September 2007, more than 200 inmates escaped from a maximum security prison in the Karamoja region in the north-east of the country.
In 2006, another 500 prisoners escaped from a prison in Arua, West Nile region (northwest).
Uganda has more than 6,000 inmates in its prisons, according to official records.
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