By John Odyek
The principal judge, Justice Yorokamu Bamwine, has said the cream hair wigs and ceremonial gowns worn by judges were a frightening spectacle to children who are brought to court either as victims to testify against criminals or as offenders.
Opening the Justice for Children Programme review meeting at Protea Hotel in Kampala on Monday, Bamwine said the dress code was one of the complicated methods of work that the Judiciary was grappling with.
The function was organised by the Justice Law and Order Sector Review in conjuction with UNICEF.
“The lordships can remove the wigs for the sake of children. Studies have showed that children are responsive in court when the wigs were removed,” Bamwine said.
He asked judges, lawyers and the Police to ensure that cases involving children are fast tracked and that case back logs of children cases should be cleared too.
The judge said that dealing with these cases urgently would ensure that the rights of the children are protected.
Bamwine noted that the Police should be vigilant to separate children from adults in detention to ensure positive outcomes for the juvenile.
He said some remand homes like those in Gulu have problems to operate as they do not have sufficient money to feed the juveniles.
"The car that was purchased for Gulu remand home is now being use by district officials because there is no money for fuel," Bamwine said.
"Some of the remand homes are not furnished, they lack staff, sometimes children escape from the facility and sometimes not all Police are aware of the facility."
He observed that while remand homes were being constructed they should include special needs for children.
Valentine Namakula executive director Center for Justice Studies Initiative said that in 2010/11 there were 10,917 cases of children in the justice system.
Namakula said of this 7,690 were cases of defilement, 1920 cases of child neglect and 3,487 case backlogs.
Namakula said that to ensure that there was justice for children, they should not overstay the maximum period of detention or rehabilitation and those children who are victims of violence should be protected during the justice processes.