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Mr Johnson Byabashaija

Who is Johnson Byabashaija? Flash Uganda Media looks at his biography, age, wife, family, tribe, relationship with General Kale Kayihura, President Museveni, Joseph Etima, early life and education of the current Commissioner General of the Uganda Prisons Services.

Johnson Omuhunde Rwashote Byabashaija, popularly known as Canon. Dr J.O.R Byabashaija is professionally a Veterinary doctor. 

Byabashaija is the Commissioner General of Prisons in Uganda since he replaced Joseph Etima in 2005. He is also the appointed Lay Canon in the Church of Uganda North Kigezi.

Early Life and Education

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Johnson Byabashaija was born on 27th September 1957 to the late Gregory Rwanshote (father), a teacher by profession and the late Cecilia Rwanshote (mother) in Kajumiro village, Nyakishenyi sub-county, Rubabo County, and Rukungiri District located in the South-West of Uganda.

In a family of seven, three boys and four girls, Byabashaija is the firstborn child. Byabashaija has been married to Jenipher since 1988.

He began his academic journey at Nyakishenyi Elementary School, he then proceeded to Kamwezi Primary School and Mukyayi Primary School for his primary education. 

He enrolled at Mutorere Secondary School in Kisoro for his O-level studies, and from here he first met the former Inspector General of Police Gen. Kale Kayihura who was two years higher than him in academics.

After that, Byabashaija enrolled in Makerere College School to complete his A-Levels. He did a combination that consisted of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Subsidiary Mathematics and he emerged as the best science student.

Makerere University’s Veterinary School accepted him for a four-year programme in veterinary medicine where he graduated in 1982. 

His dream to become a Veterinary doctor was inspired by John Batuma from his primary school at Mukyayi. The thought of joining security forces never once crossed his mind.

In 1983, Byabashaija successfully applied as a Cadet at Uganda Prisons Service (UPS) Staff College. This was mostly due to the need for him to protect himself against the dangerous times as he couldn’t practice Veterinary upcountry without any means of protection and he could easily practice his passion (Veterinary) in the prison farms.

He thereafter enrolled in the Post-Graduate Master of Science programme at Glasgow University in the United Kingdom in 1986.

Career and Professional Work Experience

After graduating from university, Byabashaija worked as a math, science, and physics teacher at Lakeside Secondary School in Luzira.

After completing a cadet assistant superintendent of prisons course at the Prisons Training School, Byabashaija joined the Uganda Prisons Service (UPS) in 1983. He was initially assigned to Kigo Prison where he served 5 years as a Deputy Officer in Charge, and 8 years as Officer in Charge while subsequently working at UPS Headquarters.

He received a promotion to Assistant Commissioner of Prisons in 1999 before being appointed Assistant Commissioner in charge of the farms inspectorate at Prisons Headquarters in 2000.

After being appointed to Senior Assistant Commissioner for two years, Deputy Commissioner General for 1.5 years, and finally Commissioner General of Prisons for the remaining 3.5 years, he succeeded Joseph Etima, who retired in 2005.

Early this year, Canon Dr. Johnson Byabashaija was reappointed by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to a two-year term as Commissioner General of the Uganda Prisons Services, during which he would be tasked with developing a capable successor.

Achievements and Awards

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At the 2017 Recognition Awards held in conjunction with the 22nd Joint Government of Uganda and Development Partners JLOS Annual Review conference at Speke Resort Munyonyo, Johnson Byabashaija received the JLOS Distinguished Service Award.

During his term in office as General Commissioner of prisons after succeeding Joseph Etima, he saw through the improvement in the education system ensuring that all inmates obtain basic education from prison. 

The prisons services provided generally under the leadership of Canon Byabashaija have placed Uganda prisons as one of the best correctional services in Africa and the fourth best in the entire world with the best rate of recidivism.

Byabashaija also raises chickens, primarily on his farm in Kigo, Entebbe called Jena Farms.


Due to their advanced age, the Parliament Appointments Committee declined to reappoint James Mwanje as Byabashaija’s deputy and Byabashaija as the Commissioner-General of the Uganda Prisons Service in 2020. 

The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) raised objections to Johnson Byabashaija’s reappointment as Commissioner General of Prisons in the same year.

However, following some private negotiations, President Yoweri Museveni reappointed Byabashaija as the Commissioner-General of the Uganda Prisons Service in January 2022.

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