IS UGANDA’S JUSTICE SYSTEM AIDING, SLOWING OR FAILING THE CHILD RIGHTS ADVOCACY AGENDA?
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In commemoration of the Day of the African Child 2020, I was appointed by High Sound for Children (HSC) to take part in the digital media conference at zoom on behalf of my fellow children on 15th June, 2020. On account of being the only child on the panel of children’s rights experts, I stood a chance to ask and understand more of the child rights advocacy agenda. Mrs. Sylvia Namubiru Mukasa the Chief executive Officer of Legal Service Providers Network (LASPNET) talked of how to create a child friendly and responsive justice system. She also talked of “Age determination for children without birth certificates to prove their age. There is conduct of inquiries from teachers at schools they go to”, she said. It is with this matter that I asked a question saying ”How is the age of street children determined?” as in point of fact, they neither have birth certificates nor do they even go to schools. With immediate response, Mrs. Sylvia N Mukasa said if tracing their distinct origin fails, then they are taken to doctors for numeration of their teeth. By so doing, the doctor is able to identify their age groups. My other question was about access to legal representation for children detained. Mrs. Sylvia N Mukasa further elaborated that “children are permitted to legal assistance by lawyers and non-lawyers who are trained in children’s law how to communicate effectively to children and their caretakers”. Mr. Mondo Kyateeka ,the Commissioner Youth and Child Affairs, gender ministry opened up that; for children that conflict with the law being put in prison should be a last resort and for the shortest time possible. However this basic right is too frequently ignored in Uganda. We’ve seen and heard of children detained for a wide array such as; petty theft, use of abusive language, vagrancy and many others. Mr. Mondo Kyateeka unveils good news that, the judiciary recently appointed a magistrate to Naguru remand home in the capital, Kampala to expedite the dismissal of all minor offence cases. A lot was said by even other panelists like; Hope Wambi of raising Voices, Mr. Damon Wamara, Country Director dwelling places, I wish I could breakdown everything that was talked about. However it was a great experience ever sharing platform with people of great intelligence. Through this meeting, I was assured of my rights and a right to demand for them. To all children, if you notice any form of violence practiced on your fellow child or you are the victim, please report by dialing 116 toll free digits for rescue. Protection and response to neglect and abuse of children will build a strong founded future generation. Children should be protected so they could develop their potentials to the fullest in order to pursue their dreams. Therefore everyone, come join this journey of justice towards children in Uganda because together we can. FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY