2 Minors Moved To Gulu Remand Home After Weeks In Detention

1717 Views Kitgum, Uganda

In short
Two detained minors with whom Police were stuck have finally been moved to Gulu remand home, more than two weeks after they were committed to high court for trial.

Two detained minors with whom Police were stuck have finally been moved to Gulu remand home, more than two weeks after they were committed to high court for trial.
Lucy Otto, the Kitgum Senior Probation and Welfare Officer, told Uganda Radio Network that the third of the juveniles that was arrested from Akilok in Orom Sub County for alleged defilement, escaped from Police custody on Monday. A reliable source at Police has confirmed the escape of the minor and said he is being pursued for re-arrest.
Otto says the minor escaped after feeding on a single meal served at lunch time for the more than two weeks they spent in Kitgum Central Police Juvenile cell. She says Police were forced to take custody of the minors after prison authorities rejected hosting them among adult offenders at Kitgum central Prisons.
Felix Omalla, the Kitgum Chief Magistrate, committed two of the minors to High Court for trail for aggravated defilement while the third on counts of defilement and willfully infecting his victims with HIV/Aids. He directed that the juveniles be moved to Gulu remand home, the only correctional justice centre for children in the region.
Margaret Adongkare, the officer in charge of Child and Family Protection Unit at Kitgum central Police Station, told Uganda Radio Network that Police became the only safe custody for the minors after Prison authorities rejected them.
Adongkare said Police had instructed parents of the minors to provide food and other social amenities for the children as they wait for transport to move them to Gulu remand home. Unfortunately their parents neglected their care forcing Police to feed the minors on just a meal a day because of lack of sufficient funds to look after them.
She warned that it was dangerous for all of them especially for the one on antiretroviral drugs. On Monday, when one of the minors was brought out of the cells, he sneaked and escaped back into his community.
Adongkare says lack of funding to move juvenile offenders to Gulu remand home has been making court hand back juvenile offenders into the hands of their parents and communities after probation failed to move and sustain them in Gulu remand home.  Lucy Otto said this has put the minors at greater risk of being harmed by their accusers in addition to traumatizing their victims.
According to Otto, to move a minor to Gulu remand home now requires 600,000 Uganda shillings up from 500,000 shillings per child. She says moving the two minors to Gulu happened on mutual understanding between authorities of Gulu and Kitgum districts which had to commit itself in writing to clear the money later.
The increment comes as the host district of Gulu threatened to close the only remand home in the region due to lack of adequate funds to run the center, unless neighbouring districts step in the gap to provide support.
Otto explained that lack of funding has crippled her efforts to tackle juvenile offenses from communities. She said last year her office received only 400,000 shillings from locally raised revenue to undertake various activities in the district.
She says Kitgum district has not prioritized the welfare of children in its planning evidence by poor funding. She cites only 400,000 shillings that her office received last year, yet she requires at least 3.7 million shillings every month to adequately address some of the emerging child issues in the district.


About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.