THE Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) has asked authorities in northern Uganda not to keep young suspects with adult ones. This follows complaints by human rights stakeholders that children were remanded with adult criminals who often preyed on them.
Treating children like adults is abuse of their rights as children and as human beings. UHCRâ€™s concern should be taken seriously because prison is meant not only to punish but more importantly to rehabilitate.
Some criminals come out of prison worse than when they went in. Children huddled together with hardened criminals might turn them into hardcore criminals too. This is a contradiction because the NRM government is an enlightened one with many intellectuals, teachers and lawyers who should be at the forefront of defending childrenâ€™s and all citizenâ€™s rights.
According to the Child Welfare League of America, there is firm evidence that teens detained and prosecuted as adults are much more likely to commit crimes when they get out of prison than young people handled as juveniles.
If, for example, teenagers beat up a colleague at school and cause grievous bodily harm to him, it is not right to treat them as adults arrested for mob justice.
It is important to recognise the psychological and physical vulnerability of children and the need to treat them as children. This is not to say that chidren should not be punished for wrongdoing but this punishment should focus on rehabilitation more than anything else.
Dumping children with adults is the same prisons is the first step in creating â€˜career criminalsâ€™ since children are very impressionable and gullible.
The Parliament should consider tabling a bill for the provision of special juvenile facilities in the country which offer job training. This is because most children involved in crime are socially disadvantaged.
Children should also be sensitised about the dangers of drug abuse because that is how many of them get involved in crime. Juvenile offenders need protection.
Juvenile offenders must be protected