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Wednesday,September 30,2020 12:48 PM

Defilement victims deserve compensation

By Vision Reporter

Added 16th January 2007 03:00 AM

THE year 2006 was one of the most troubling for children in Uganda. Over 11,923 children were defiled, the highest number ever.

THE year 2006 was one of the most troubling for children in Uganda. Over 11,923 children were defiled, the highest number ever.

By Joshua Lubandi

THE year 2006 was one of the most troubling for children in Uganda. Over 11,923 children were defiled, the highest number ever.

Considering that these were only reported cases, the actual number could be two times that recorded by the Police. The police figure suggests that over 30 children are defiled everyday — two children every hour.

Whereas defilement is on the rise, few of the perpetrators are brought to justice. A survey by African Network for Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) shows that in 2005, only 533 out of 6,216 cases of child abuse reported entered the criminal justice system. The trend was not very different in the years before.

The legal procedures are partly to blame for children’s failure to get justice. Defilement is a capital offence that is triable only by the High Court. This has led to a backlog of cases because High Court judges are few.

If the penalty is reduced to life imprisonment, as proposed in the Penal Code Amendment Bill 2006, the Magistrates’ Courts shall have power to try the offence, thereby enabling speedy trials.

The judicial procedures also involve various costs which have discouraged many would-be complainants. Medical examination of the victim is sh10,000 and Police Surgeons are not only few but are also unavailable in rural areas. Complainants have to incur high transport costs to reach a Police surgeon. Transporting witnesses during the trial is also costly. Yet at the end of the trial the victims receive no compensation. This is because the criminal justice system emphasises punishing the offender. Consequently, some parents keep the matter private and allow offenders to give them money, local brew, goats or land as compensation. This is abuse of children because they are looked at as commodities.

The Bill gives courts discretion to order compensation. It should be mandatory for convicts to pay compensation to their victims, not as a substitute to the penalty but a benefit to the victim. This will prevent out-of-court settlements. Courts can have discretion to determine the amount.

The Sexual Offences Bill 2000 and the Penal Code Amendment Bill 2006 should be enacted into law quickly. Otherwise children will continue suffering without justice.

The writer is the Information Assistant, ANPPCAN Uganda Chapter

Defilement victims deserve compensation

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