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DPP Launces Three More Child Friendly Rooms in Uganda

Previously, judges and magistrates in the three districts used their chambers for the cross-examination of children. As a result, prosecutors faced numerous challenges when preparing children because some of them would get timid, freak out or simply keep quiet when asked to narrate their ordeals in open spaces with adults.
Some of the Items inside a Child Friendly Room at DPP regional office Kikungiri

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The Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) has launched three child-friendly rooms in the districts of Kabale, Mbarara, and Masaka to serve as reception and holding spaces for child victims and witnesses before their appearance in court.

Previously, judges and magistrates in the three districts used their chambers for the cross-examination of children. As a result, prosecutors faced numerous challenges when preparing children because some of them would get timid, freak out or simply keep quiet when asked to narrate their ordeals in open spaces with adults.

Vincent Wagona, the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions said that it would become very difficult to get evidence from child witnesses and some of the cases would be lost as a result. He says that the new child-friendly rooms are equipped with children's toys, mattresses, toys, and reading books for children, to make the mood more relaxing for them, and ensure that the children are treated with more  dignity and respect

The rooms were constructed by the office of the DPP with support from the Children at Risk Action Network (CRANE), and Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS). Rachael Odoi, the Senior Technical Advisor at JLOS says that the initiative to open up more child-friendly rooms is in fulfilment of international law guidelines that emphasize the promotion of child-friendly procedures in the justice system.

Kabale High Court Judge Moses Kazibwe says that the construction of child-friendly rooms was long overdue. Kazibwe advocated for more rooms so that every district benefits instead of the regional level and added that similar rooms should be opened at other institutions in the justice chain handling children like Police.

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Kabale District Senior Probation Officer Monica Muhumuza Nzeirwe says that having child-friendly rooms in Kabale is a very big achievement because her office grapples with many juvenile cases. According to Muhumuza, her office registered 10 murders, 66 aggravated defilement and 33 child abandonment cases between March 2020- March 2021.

In March 2018, the first child-friendly room was launched at the office of the Director of Public Prosecution- DPP at the NSSF building in Kampala.

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