Community Service Failing In Kitgum - Magistrate

2296 Views Kitgum, Uganda

In short
Community service orders for offenders are not bearing much fruits in Kitgum district, the Grade One Magistrates Court has said. Irene Akello, the Presiding Magistrate of the court says community service was introduced as an alternative justice program requiring convicted individuals to perform charitable services either entirely or partly in lieu of judicial remedies or penalties.

Community service orders for offenders are not bearing much fruits in Kitgum district, the Grade One Magistrates Court has said.
 
Irene Akello, the Presiding Magistrate of the court says the Justice, Law and Order Sector introduced community service in 2005 as an alternative justice program requiring convicted individuals to perform charitable services either entirely or partly in lieu of judicial remedies or penalties.
 
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The Community Service Act was passed in Parliament in 2000 to provide for intermediate sanction to offenders instead of jail for minor and non-violent offenses.
 
Akello says demands for the program are sharply growing among communities. However, lack of man power to supervise or monitor the execution of the orders, conflicts in allocated time for monitoring and lack of compliance on the side of offenders are among the many challenges affecting the alternative justice program in the district.
 
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Under the program, an offender is required to perform up to 980 hours of charitable or unpaid work in his community of residence within six months. Magistrate Akello says because of the challenges, beneficiaries have been restricted largely to institutions such as Kitgum Local government, Kitgum Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital, and sub county headquarters among others.
 
Last year, Buganda Road Court Grade One Magistrate, Julius Borore convicted four Pentecostal pastors for tarnishing Pastor Robert Kayanja’s name by accusing him of sodomy. He sentenced each to a fine of one million shillings and community service of 100 hours or to serve six months in prison upon failure to pay the fine and performing the community service.
 
Patrick Epilla, the Officer In charge of Kitgum Government Prison, praises the program for decongesting his facility but says it can be made more effective when integrated with traditional justice mechanisms.
 
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According to the 2011/2012 Justice Law and Order Sector report, prisons would have had more than 8,000 more prisoners if community service order had not been issued by courts.

 

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.