The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child defines a child as a person under the age of 18 years. Children are considered vulnerable persons that attract special protection from not only the State and its organs but also from its citizens. The Uganda Refugee Response Plan January 2019-December 2020 indicates that children represent 60% of the refugees and asylum seekers in Uganda. In refugee hosting areas there are many children who have been forced to seek refuge, some along with their parents, others unaccompanied or separated from their parents or guardians. In the process of seeking asylum, some of these children face physical, sexual, gender violence and psychological trauma. What, though, happens to those who enter into conflict with the law? I want to share my own encounters, as a lawyer working with refugees and their hosts, with Uganda’s treatment of children in conflict with the law.
As the world continues to suffer diverse conflicts and disasters, forced migration is increasing. Today there are over 70.8 million forced migrants, the highest number ever recorded. Of these, 29.4 million are refugees and asylum seeker who have fled their home countries due to conflicts, war and discrimination (UNHCR (2020)). Africa alone toils with more than 6.8 million. Even as it grapples with the legacies of numerous internal conflicts which have left millions of people displaced, disempowered and destabilized, Uganda now also hosts over 1.4 million refugees, the third largest refugee population in the world, and the largest on the continent.
Provision of psychosocial counselling in detention is vital in enabling inmates cope up positively with mental health problems. In my interaction with mothers living with their children in prisons in western Uganda, they shared the ordeal under which children are raised. From their expression, the challenges being faced indicate a huge gap in children’s general wellbeing in detention. Child protection emphasises “reducing risks to children’s holistic well-being, making children’s rights a reality, and creating an enabling environment that supports children’s positive
Forced migration continues to be a global challenge with over 70.8 million people forcibly displaced, of which 29.4 million are refugees and asylum seekers. They have fled their homeland seeking asylum due to wars/conflicts, persecution, calamities and other social unrests. This has not spared any continent, and Africa alone is struggling with over 5.6 million. Uganda is quoted by the UNHCR June 2019 Uganda comprehensive refugee response portal to be hosting 1,293,582 refugees and asylum seekers with majority from South Sudan (833,785) Democratic republic of Congo (353,379) and Burundi (41,322) among others. How they are hosted and where depends on the laws, policies and practices of the host
How refugees as well as other suspects get stuck on remand in Uganda’s prisons
As in many similar jurisdictions, and in line with internationally ratified instruments,1 Chapter 4 of Uganda’s 1995 Constitution provides clear protections for the rights of pre-trial detainees. Firstly, it is the duty of the State to bring the suspect to justice without delay and to produce the suspect before a competent court within 48 hours.2 Secondly, Article 28 (3) (a) of Uganda’s 1995 Constitution provides for presumption of innocence until proven guilty by a competent court. Thirdly, Article 28 (1) provides an accused person the right to a fair and speedy trial. This is echoed in Article 126 (2) (b) which provides that justice shall not be delayed, though it is silent on what amounts to a ‘speedy trial’.
When I first started working at Refugee Law Project, an outreach project of the School of Law Makerere University, I perhaps naively assumed that these protections
By Akullu Barbra (Published 21st March 2018)
The world, recently commemorated another International Women’s Day. It is an important day around which to take stock of achievements towards gender equality, as well as the challenges that continue to confront women and girls worldwide. This year’s commemoration once again unveiled the need to advance the discussion on working with men and boys to end violence against women and girls. While at the national level, the Ministry of Health has promoted the need to engage men and boys in family planning programmes and ante-natal care (a model that has realized relative successes), the numerous events to stand with and support women and girls that were organized on Women’s Day by government and non-governmental actors, left a number of critical issues to ponder about.
By Francis Olanya (Published 8th March 2018)
As we commemorate International Women’s Day in Uganda under the theme “Empowerment of Rural Women and Girls: Opportunities and Challenges”, we are reminded that rural women and girls including refugee women and girls still have limited access to learning opportunities as a core empowerment strategy: The Global Education Monitoring report by UNESCO (2016) highlights that 63% of women have not attained minimum literacy skills.
By Charles Waddimba (Published 4th November 2016)
Uganda is home to 695,386 refugees and asylum seekers (Office of the Prime Minister, September 2016) mostly originating from neighboring countries within the Great Lakes Region of Africa such as South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Gambia, Benin, Ethiopia, and Eritrea among others. This number is likely to rise still further given the political upheaval in Burundi and South Sudan.