Police Officers Forced to House Juvenile Suspects

2110 Views Fort Portal, Uganda

In short
Due to the acute shortage of remand home facilities, in some of the district the minors and kept in the same police cells with adult offenders for several weeks, while in some areas cops have turned their houses into detention centers for the minors.

The acute shortage of detention facilities for juvenile offenders has forced cops in Rwenzori region to detain the minors in their quarters. There is only one remand home in Fort Portal serving the seven districts in the region.

Due to the acute shortage of remand home facilities, in some of the district the minors and kept in the same police cells with adult offenders for several weeks, while in some areas cops have turned their houses into detention centers for the minors.

At Karugutu police station in Ntoroko district, there are no special cells for juvenile offenders so they are always locked up with adults in a congested police cell.  Beatrice Kamuhanda, the in charge of the Family and Child protection unit Ntoroko says that some police officers have no option, but turn their homes into a temporary cell for the offenders up to when they are taken to court.

Kamuhanda says that Fort Portal is far away and the police doesn't have reliable transport means to take the offenders to the remand home.

// Cue in: "we look after them..."
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In Bundibugyo district, Scovia Businge, the in-charge of the family and child protection unit says that courts in the district have been forced to charge juvenile offenders and send them back to police for detention simply because of lack of a nearby remand home.
 
She says that the juveniles are now detained with adult offenders, which goes against juvenile rights. Businge explains that efforts to take children to the remand home have been complicated by lack of logistics.She says for a juvenile offender to be admitted in a remand home the police must provide a mattress which the force cannot afford.

She says that police could stop arresting the minor offenders, since there is lack of a remand home in the district. Francis Birungi, the Ntoroko district probation and welfare officer, says since they lack funds for constructing a detention centre, they are in talks with Non-Governmental Organizations and other well-wishers in the district to see that the center is in place soon.

Viola Kansiime, the director Rwenzori Children's Network says that detaining juvenile offenders temporarily in homes of police officers isn't good, since some of the offenders especially the girls are vulnerable to sexual assaults.  Kansiime wants government to establish detention centres in all districts in the region.

The Children's Act prohibits detaining and jailing of a child offender in the same place, cell or prison together with adult offenders.

 

About the author

Emmanuel Kajubu
Emmanuel Kajubu is proud to have been the first Ugandan journalist to write in depth pieces about the Tooro Kingdom institution. His knowledge of the inner workings of the Tooro Kingdom is what made him privy to the splits in the royal family. These splits almost challenged Tooro Omukama Oyo Nyimba Iguru's reign.

Culture, agriculture and the environment are just two areas of many of interest to Kajubu. As long as he has held a pen, Kajubu has also written about public policy, health and crime.

Kajubu is keen on impacting his society not just as a writer but also a trainer and mentor. Bundibugyo and Ntoroko districts fall under his docket. Kajubu has been a URN staff member since 2008.