LUZIRA Prison is stuck with 17 juveniles sentenced to death but who cannot be hanged because they committed the offences when they were below 18 years.
Some of them who are now adults have spent 12 years in prison and their fate can only be determined by the justice minister. The fate of these young offenders was brought to light in a report launched by the Foundation of the Human Rights Initiative last week.
The cases date back to 1997 and it is claimed it is hard to trace the judges who passed the sentences. Why are the records not available since 1997 is only 12 years ago? It is common legal practice to quote landmark cases in court which date back to the 19th Century.
The Childrenâ€™s Act requires children sentenced to death to be handled by the family and childrenâ€™s court. Besides, the fact that some of the convicts are now adults does not nullify the point that they were convicted when they were minors.
What kind of legal system is it that keeps juveniles on death row? Luzira is not a prison for juveniles and mixing young people with hardened criminals has dire consequences. It seems there is no form of rehabilitation being given to these young offenders.
Having committed the crimes when they were juveniles, it would be appropriate for the minister to find it in his heart to be lenient. Their continued incarceration is not the right decision.
Children who commit grave crimes are a rude reminder of the deteriorating family values in our society. More often than not, they are the wronged parties by adults who should have been their protectors.
Many children grow up experiencing pain and witnessing violence and are in effect an indictment of the shortcomings of our society.
The justice minister should take more interest in these young peopleâ€™s cases and give them a second chance.
Give juvenile inmates a second chance