Sunday, 22 January 2012 06:46

UGANDA: Child Cases Need More Judicial Care

 

The African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN), a children rights organisation, has called for judicial reforms in handling juvenile cases so as to create a conducive environment that will ensure children's active participation in judicial processes.


The organisation said at court level, there is need for a child-friendly courtroom with a secret passage used only by child victims of abuse like it is in Ethiopia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

"This room should be connected to the courtroom by a Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) through which the victim testifies. In addition to this, social workers should be recruited and trained as intermediaries to prepare children for the court," Mr Deogratias Yiga, the ANPPCAN Uganda executive director, said in a statement yesterday.

The organisation also proposed that the trained intermediaries should work closely with the courts and be part of court staff.

Mr Erias Kisawuzi, the Judiciary spokesperson, said they have made tremendous improvement in creating conducive environment for children's active participation in judicial processes.

"What they are talking about is the structural setup, but of recent, we have set enabling environment and a conducive regime that treats juvenile fairly," he said.

He added: "We have gazetted all grade one magistrates as family and children's courts, which is a milestone."

Mr Kisawuzi said court has also recruited professional magistrates who are well-informed of human rights, especially those of children.

In its statement, Anppcan applauded the High Court in Kampala for jailing a man, a resident of Makindye Division, for 25 years for defiling his daughter in 2009. The matter, which was before the court in December 2011, was heard and judgment was subsequently passed on the accused.

The victim, who currently lives in an orphanage in Kamuli District, eastern Uganda, has already given birth. "We at ANPPCAN are happy at such developments and believe that the 25 years given are enough at least to reform the character of the perpetrator," Mr Yiga said.

"However, we are still not satisfied with the entire justice system for abused children because so many victims of defilement are not accessing the justice they deserve. The justice system needs to be reformed to allow for defilement cases to be handled speedily," he added.

In the area of crimes against children, the magnitude of child abuse has remained undesirably high and threatens children's right to survival.

Source: The Monitor (Kampala, Uganda)

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