NGO Wants Policy To Protect Children Of Prisoners

3151 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Solomon Muyita, a Communications officer of the Judiciary says at the moment there is no direct law helping these children. He says the only mechanism available especially legally is mitigation where ones lawyer can plead for a lesser sentence on the basis of having children to take care of. He also says largely its the role of the community to take care of this children.

Wells of Hope Ministries, a nonprofit organization involved in outreach to Children of Prisoners have called on Government to enact a Policy to protect children of prisoners.

According to the nonprofit organization, currently children of prisoners are not grouped under orphans and vulnerable children,  which is making them continue in suffering especially with access to services like Education, food and shelter which are basic human rights.

In an Interview with URN, Ellen Eva Ssuubu, the Executive Director Wells of Hope Ministry says it's a known fact that most children get stranded when their parents get arrested, and in most cases some children take on the responsibility of being the provider.

She says establishing a policy for these children will go a long way in taking care of the innocent children whose future seems to be doomed.

According to Ssuubi, currently Uganda doesn't know the number of children of prisoners. He says as an organization they are trying to find out how many children have their parents in prison. 

According to Ssubi, Wells of Hope sponsors 143 children of prisoners in school, but 35 of them are not sponsored. He says they have overwhelming requests from remaining the guardians of children of prisoners, but this requires concerted efforts.

She says some 15 children of prisoners have not been given opportunities at Wells of Hope school in Namayumba in Wakiso district due to funding challenges.

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Charles Ochopel, a head teacher at Wells of Hope Primary school In Namayumba says its not only the children who are helpless, but usually families of all the prisoners. He says in some cases the families of parents imprisoned ends up disappearing and it is the children who get affected. He says the condition is worse with some parents getting imprisoned for over 60 years.

He urged Government to look upon this case of children of prisoners and see how to support and rehabilitate them.

He says there is a great challenge in tracing up prisoners families, reuniting them and especially a problem of low income in the household.

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According to Penal Reform International, an estimated 200,000 children have their parents in prisons in Uganda, and these children's rights get violated when their caregivers are arrested.

Solomon Muyita, a Communications officer of the Judiciary says at the moment there is no direct law helping these children. He says the only mechanism available especially legally is mitigation where ones lawyer can plead for a lesser sentence on the basis of having children to take care of. He also says largely it's the role of the community to take care of this children.

He says sometimes both parents are offenders, while in other cases the mother of the child can be either divorced or dead, and father jailed.

"This is a great concern which needs to be looked into; the way it is happening now is that the community and some members of the public are expected to help these children. There is only a provision for children who are born from prisons who are given sometimes with the jailed parents," Muyita said in an interview.

 

About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.