Ugandan Activists Condemn Pardons for Defilement Convicts

Ugandan Activists Condemn Pardons for Defilement Convicts
Illustration by Cosmos Arinitwe

Summary:

  • Child rights activists condemn President Museveni’s decision to pardon defilement convicts, expressing concerns about its impact on efforts against child sexual abuse. They highlight the urgency of addressing issues like education and street children in Uganda, emphasizing the need for adequate resources and comprehensive strategies.

Child rights activists have strongly criticized President Museveni’s recent decision to grant pardons to certain prisoners convicted of defilement. Timothy Opobo, the executive director of AfriChild Centre, voiced his concerns during a Child Protection Budget Advocacy meeting held in Kampala. He emphasized that such actions undercut their efforts against child sexual abuse, questioning the message it sends when perpetrators can be pardoned.

Tabitha Suubi, the program manager for violence against children prevention at Raising Voices, echoed this sentiment, warning that the decision might embolden sexual offenders. A joint statement from various human rights groups, including the Uganda Association for Women Lawyers (Fida), expressed dismay, stating that the decision has caused anguish, pain, and confusion within Uganda’s women’s movement.

President Museveni’s pardons included 13 convicts, among them former National Social Security Fund (NSSF) boss David Chandi Jamwa. While Jamwa was serving a 12-year sentence for causing financial losses to the government, 11 of the 13 pardoned prisoners had been convicted of defilement.

Opobo highlighted that tens of thousands of children suffer sexual abuse annually, with many others falling victim to trafficking. Moses Otai, the country director of Child Fund Uganda, also raised concerns about the high dropout rate of primary school children, attributing it to the lack of inclusive and quality education. He urged lawmakers to allocate adequate funds for education and child justice, emphasizing the need to address the issue of street children decisively.

Otai revealed that between 2,000 and 5,000 children join the streets of major Ugandan cities each month. Mondo Kyateka, the assistant commissioner for youth and children’s affairs at the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development, confirmed that the ministry’s budget is insufficient to tackle such challenges. He emphasized that addressing the issue of street children requires more than mere cosmetic efforts, highlighting the need for adequate resources and comprehensive strategies.

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