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Guidelines to Promote Rights of Juvenile Offenders Launched :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Guidelines to Promote Rights of Juvenile Offenders Launched

The new guidelines, which are coming into force after 19 years, will ensure that minors who commit petty offences are diverted from the formal justice system through procedures, structures, and programmes that help reconcile them through non-judicial bodies, thus avoiding the negative effects of formal judicial proceedings.

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The Uganda Police Force and United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICE have launched guidelines that allow juveniles in conflict with the law to be rehabilitated instead of being tried in court. 

The new guidelines, which are coming into force after 19 years, will ensure that minors who commit petty offences are diverted from the formal justice system through procedures, structures, and programmes that help reconcile them through non-judicial bodies, thus avoiding the negative effects of formal judicial proceedings.  

In the new guidelines, Police will facilitate the process and brief the parents or guardians about the offence committed to ensure that the child doesn’t come into conflict with the law again.  

Effective diversion measures prevent minor offences from clogging up the formal justice system and can help reduce the number of children who re-offend, as international evidence shows. 

For children who have committed grave offences, the Police will refer their cases to a judge or magistrate who will decide whether to undertake court proceedings.

The new guidelines reflect the current situation, rules, and principles in line with the Children (Amendment) Act 2016, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its guidelines, and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.  

In Uganda, many children come into contact with the formal justice system or are deprived of liberty when their basic rights are not fully respected. Children below the age of 18 years can be arrested and detained for petty offences.

According to the Justice, Law and Order Sector Annual Report 2017/18, the national diversion rate is 76.3 per cent, although the importance of diversion is not fully recognized among all police officers and stakeholders. 

Speaking at the launch, Dr Doreen Mulenga, UNICEF Representative in Uganda congratulated the Government on this important milestone for child rights.

 “As UNICEF, we continue to be committed to supporting the Justice, Law and Order Sector institutions, including the Uganda Police, to create a justice system that is responsive to children and is child-friendly”, she said. 

The launch is an opportunity to spread the ideas and procedures of diversion widely among stakeholders who are involved in justice for children across the country.  

"I would like to make sure that every police officer in each community understands how to apply diversion to make a true change. In order to achieve that, everybody should be involved in trainings on how to use the guidelines rather than just distributing the guidelines", said Maureen Atuhaire, Acting Commissioner of Child and Family Protection Department.

She added that police officers will be trained on how to use the guidelines which will be disseminated after the launch.