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Justice for Children: Training of trainers manual

Children constitute 52% of Uganda's population. Unfortunately, many of them survive in some of the most difficult circumstances, both while they live with their families and when they are out of a family set up living as orphans in homes and on the street. In order to provide an effective childcare system in the country, the Government of Uganda enacted the Children Act cap 59. The Act outlines rights of children and introduces schemes to take care of the needs of children whether in homes, those deprived of family support and care, as well as children who come in conflict with law. Such schemes include local council courts (LCCs), Family and Children Courts (FCCs) and approved homes.

Care and protection of children is recognized as basic to their survival and growth. For children found in the most vulnerable situations, a rights-based and child friendly approach is mandatory. This expectation stems from Uganda's international commitments by way of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and also as a constitutional guarantee.

II. Child Friendly Approach to Justice
A child friendly approach to justice for children implores us to rethink the way in which justice for children is handled. It requires a rethinking of measures taken in handling vulnerable children, those in need of care and protection and those in conflict with the law, by preparing duty bearers to administer justice differently. The ideal ethos is a system that is sensitive to, and adapts to the specific vulnerabilities and needs of children. It should recognize that children should be treated differently from adults and their best interests should be taken into account in all instances. These ideologies are well exemplified in the numerous international human rights instruments whose principles are well reflected in Uganda’s Children Act.

However, even as progressive as the Children Act is, implementation remains weak and almost invisible. The recent report on Uganda’s Universal Periodic Review submitted in 2011 details rampant violation of children’s rights including child abuse, commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking. The report notes the slow progress achieved in establishing a functioning system for protection of child victims of violence, abuse and juvenile justice throughout the country. This situation is coupled with the steadily increasing number of children in conflict with the law. Such children are likely to suffer poor conditions of pre-trial detention and lack of access to legal representation which increases their vulnerability

One of the biggest problems faced by children in contact with the law lies in the narrow understanding of different stakeholders regarding the jurisdiction of the law and their role in applying rights based approach. Additionally, actors working in the area of children’s justice are not adequately cognizant of the special needs and attributes of children and how to provide the best protection especially for those children in need of special care. Thus the call for this Training Manual.

III   Using This Manual
This Manual is a Trainers' Guide aimed to strengthen the knowledge and skills of, and to encourage a rights-based attitude and understanding among duty bearers in the area of child justice. The Manual provides a child sensitive and friendly approach to providing justice to children in need. It uses both a theoretical and practical framework and draws upon various training techniques. An attempt has also been made to make it comprehensive and highly interactive.

It is arranged into the following Seven modules.

1.    Preparing for a Training
2.    Child Rights
3.    Children in Need of Care and Protection
4.    Children in Conflict with the Law
5.    Diversion
6.    Roles of Key Duty Bearers
7.    Child Friendly Approaches to Justice