The principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine has ordered the police to unconditionally release all the children who are in their cells. Bamwine issued the order this morning during an impromptu visit to Mbale Central Police Station where he found children sharing cells with adults.
The sight of children in adult cells infuriated the principal Judge, forcing him to order the police to unconditionally, release all the children who are in their cells. The Judge put the Mbale District Police Commander Jacob Opolot to task to explain why children were being held in adult cells.
He ordered Opolot to ensure that children who are arrested for petty offences like stealing are set free on reaching police stations. Opolot attempted to justify the detention saying that sometimes they get conflicting report on the age of the subjects but the Judge protested that the police should use the information from the schools where the suspects study to ascertain their age.
// Cue in: “My Lord its true…”
Cue out “…and the boy goes back to school” //
The Judge’s action was prompted by a case of a 17-year-old student of Nakaloke Islamic Secondary School Isaac Higenyi who has been detained at Mbale Central Police Station for one week over allegations of stealing 200,000 shillings.
Bamwine said the police should have summoned the parents of the boy and handed the matter to them to handle so that he does not miss school by being detained. He said the police should ensure that such children are either handed over to their parents or to organizations that can rehabilitate them.
He also instructed the Mbale Chief Magistrate Lillian Bucyana to ensure that children who are brought to court to face the formal justice system are instead referred back to traditional and cultural leaders for rehabilitation. Justice Bamwine says government should move a step further and demolish all remand homes in the country as part of reforms in the justice, law and order sector as a way of preventing children from facing formal justice system.