Juvenile offenders in Kasese district will soon have reprieve from sharing cells with adult crime suspects and hard-core criminals.
Save the Children in Uganda has announced plans to for it to construct a juvenile reception center at the Kasese District Police Station.
Save the Children's regional advisor on emergency education, John Ekwamu, told district leaders in Kasese that the reception center would provide for the mandatory separation of juvenile and adult suspects. He said it would enable child suspects to access justice faster and would ensure the protection of their rights.
The Kasese district leaders welcomed the announcement. However, the chairperson of the district's education committee, John Tinkasimire, requested Save the Children to consider renovating the dilapidated child remand home in Rusese instead of pouring funds into the construction of a reception center.
Ekwamu promised to look into the possible revision of his organization's budget to include the renovation of Rusese Remand Home.
Juveniles in conflict with the law in Uganda are protected by a number of domestic and international standards, such the Constitution of Uganda, Children Statute and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, a report by the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative notes that the juvenile justice system is continually plagued with numerous problems violating the rights of the child due to the under funding of the system. This has resulted in extremely poor conditions in remand homes, lack of access to legal representation, and the denial of a speedy trial amongst others.
The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative recommended that there should be at least one Crisis Centre and Remand Home in each district to house the abused children. The Crisis Centres should be funded by the District Councils. It also advised that each District has the duty to put up a Remand Home so that Children are detained separately from the adults.
A separate study by the Uganda Child Rights NGO Network observed that some districts are making efforts at improving the handling of children in conflict with the law. Nebbi and Gulu districts are each building a remand home specifically for children in accordance with the provisions of the Children Statute 1996 that require each district to establish a remand place. In Masaka, children are no longer detained with adults and are released on bail pending trial.
However other districts are struggling; in Mbarara district a remand home for children is situated in adult prison, which is not a child-friendly atmosphere while the districts of Kamuli and Luwero like many others lack a remand home for children.