LC Courts in Kabarole are not handling cases of children in conflict with the law. The cases like theft, assault that are supposed to be handled by the LC courts are now being handled by the Familiy and Children court, which has caused influx of cases.
Local Council [LC] courts in Kabarole have failed to operate forcing child offenders to stand trial in other courts. LC courts are mandated by the children’s act to handle cases involving children. Chapter 91 of the act calls for the establishment of local council courts at the village, parish and sub county level to ensure easy access to justice by children.
The courts are expected to handle minor cases like theft, affray, assault and criminal trespass involving children. They are also supposed to issue out punishments like compensation, community service and caution to the child offender. The grounds for using local council courts are because they use the local language and can be easily accessed because they are in the community.
However, in Kabarole children are taken to the family and children’s courts for trial because of the failure by local council courts to operate. Statistics at the Family and Children court indicate that there are more than eighty cases that are pending before the court, which is blamed on the non functionality of the LC courts. George Mwesigwa, the LC1 chairperson Nyaburara village says that they receive more than five cases of children in conflict with the law every day, but they don’t handle the cases, because they are ignorant about how the court should function.
Mwesigwa also says that some members of the local council are not aware of the rights of children and lack materials to refer to when handling the cases. He says for the LC courts to function, they should be trained on children rights and the role of each member of the court.
//Cue in: “we know nothing on rights…”
Cue out:”…I think training would help us.”//
Moses Mugisa, chairperson of Burungu village says that last year, the local authorities resolved not to handle cases involving children, because some members of the community interfere in the work of the courts. He says that some parents demand for the release of their children, which does not go down well with the aggrieved party.
Faith Mwesige, a parent says that the failure by the local councils to hear cases involving children has affected the education of his son. Mwesige says that his son was arrested for theft and assault and transferred to the family and children court in Fort Portal and given bail. She says that now his son has to balance reporting to court every Wednesday and going to school.
David Balisanga, the chairperson of the district social services committee says that they are requesting NGOs dealing in children and judicial officials to train the local council authorities on children rights and how the courts should operate.
the childrens act
children in conflcit with the law
inefficient local council courts