State Accountability on Presentation of Juvenile Delinquency In Uganda
By Dr. Anil Nepali,
Global Ambassador of PLATFORM for the NEEDY
Delinquent and criminal behavior among young people as they transit from childhood to adulthood in an increasing trend. It is widely recognized that subjecting children to formal adult judicial proceedings can have negative effects on their well-being and future prospects, therefore implementation of child-friendly justice services is crucial to protect the rights of children in conflict of law. In Uganda, the justice system has been struggling with the issue of how to effectively address offenses committed by children.
Uganda’s law proposed Children’s Statute bill proposes to unify the definition of a child as someone less than 18 years old in order to solve these issues and ensure that kids have consistent legal rights and protections. According to Uganda’s Children Act of 1997, which governs issues relating to children’s rights and welfare, a child under the age of 12 is deemed incapable of committing a crime and is not consequently subject to criminal liability. However, children between the ages of 12 and 18 are capable of committing crimes and can be held accountable for their deeds. The legislation encourages the employment of diversionary measures and restorative justice procedures when a child between the ages of 12 and 18 is charged with a crime with the intention of rehabilitating and reintegrating them back into society. As per Justice, Law, and Order Sector Annual Report 2017/18, the national diversion rate in Uganda is 76.3 percent.
In 1990, Uganda formally ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, pledging its dedication to prioritizing the well-being and development of children. As part of this commitment, the Justice, Law and Order Sector, with support of UNICEF, is presently executing the Justice for Children (J4C) Programme. The primary objective of this program is to enhance the sector’s capabilities to effectively address the specific requirements of children within the justice system. A significant step towards reform has been taken with the launch of Diversion Guidelines by the Uganda Police Force and UNICEF. The new Diversion Guidelines are a significant milestone for child rights in Uganda. They reflect the current legal framework, including the Children (Amendment) Act 2016, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
.Uganda requires multi-disciplinary approach involving various stake holders. Uganda needs programs to better educate judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials about children’s rights and the use of restorative justice procedures and to launch the public awareness program about juvenile delinquency, its causes, and the value of rehabilitation and reintegration. In addition, Uganda needs to establish a system for regular monitoring and evaluation of the juvenile justice system and review and update existing laws and policies related to juvenile justice as per United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child’s standards
- Uganda National child policy 2020.