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KITGUM - His Worship Felix Omara, Chief Magistrate Kitgum in his opening remarks welcomed participants to Kitgum. “If children “copy and paste”, who do they copy from?" he questioned the participants. He suggested, "It’s from us. Let’s learn only one thing- we need to find out workable solutions and stop lamenting. If you say there are lots of children in the prisons, how did they get there? If we don’t handle ourselves well as parents or potential parents, there’s no way the children will be different”
 

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Memorandum submitted to His Lordship Yorokam Bamwine, Hon Principal Judge, Lead Champion of J4C and Chairperson  JLOS Advisory committee on May 20, 2014.

Preamble
The Justice Law and Order Sector took an initiative to change and accord children better services and more protection in the justice system. The Pilot Programme has brought to the forefront urgent actions for the JLOS Sector Political and Technical Leadership. These actions have been brought to the attention of the Principal Judge the lead champion of Justice for Children and Chair of the JLOS Chain Linked Advisory Committee in the briefing meeting held on 20th May 2014 with the representatives of the J4C management team.

It is our request that the JLOS political leadership presently on a monitoring visit to Western Uganda considers and reinforces the need for urgent and collective action in these urgent matters as enumerated below:

General interventions

1.    Facilities for Children: Prioritize  construction and restructuring of facilities for children  in the JLOS decentralization Programme
2.    Service Delivery Standards: JLOS needs to have a loud and clear pronouncement to enforce standards of service for children such as emphasis on diversion; fast tracking of cases , non-custodial sentences, ensuring best interest of the children in all matters, as well as putting in place a  meaningful rehabilitation and re-intergradation
3.    Integration of   child friendly procedures and standards into JLOS formal and informal trainings of JLOS human resource. For  example at Law Development Centre, the Judicial Studies Institute, Police and Prisons Training Schools
4.    Plan and  resource the institutions with sufficient human and financial resources  for improved services delivery

Institutional specific action points

The Judiciary


1.    Issue Rules of Procedure for all levels of judiciary to re affirm priority in addressing child related cases including
2.    Institutionalize good practices within the Judiciary to ensure that courts (Chief Magistrate /High Court) reflect special sessions / weekly days for child related cases/fast tracking / cause listing of child cases and sharing with MGSLD .Address backlog by weeding out cases above one year especially related to children
3.    Issue guidance to Chief Magistrates /Judges to ensure that children as victims or offenders are treated in a manner that is not intimidating (encourage Magistrates /Judges to use  in camera proceedings for defilement victims, informal interaction and dress by judges, use of local language where needed, relative‘s presence, preparation of children for court sessions) etc. These do not require funds but more of a direction in change of attitudes. 
4.    Advocate and ensure that JLOS holds at least semi- annual /annual Judicial Review to incorporate critical elements related to child justice interventions to drive home the intent /priority accorded by the highest level.
5.    Hold rotational courts in place with no judicial officers for example in Napak and gazette  Grade one areas with  wider scope of operation into  Chief Magistrates  such as Pader.
6.    Implement child friendly courtroom processes, including for example:  introduce child support centre and use them to preparing children for the courtroom experience, providing counseling, informal and child friendly language, local language, informal seating, hearing in chambers and mandatory provision of social inquiry reports before charges are approved and orders passed
7.    Review of over -zealous sentencing and ensure that children are not sentenced routinely to prison/detention.
8.    Support and strengthen RCC/DCC with clear cut mandate and human resources to regularly review progress on child related cases.

The Police


1.    Assess CFPU functioning in terms of skills/knowledge among personnel level of authority as was done by UNICEF in 20 districts. This helped to plan for the type of training/ support that is required.
2.    Upgrade level of authority in police officers in CFPU especially in outposts.( replacing corporals and Constables with Asst. Inspectors as the outpost is the first contact especially for cases of defilement and at the moment have limited authority)
3.    Prioritize diversion and follow-up of cases.
4.    Approve new work flow processes between Police/Probation and DPP to ensure better /speedy case file circulation.
5.    Institutionalization of in service joint  trainings for CIID –CFPU and medical personnel( doctors, Mid-Wives ) in dealing with defilement cases
6.     Integrated case management of child related cases between CIID/CFPU , Gender and DPP

Ministry of Gender Labour and social development (MGLSD)

1.    Policy decision to strengthen probation function -consider Separation of Probation /Welfare functions pending approval
2.    National Rehabilitation Centre Kampiringisa needs stronger management and restructuring.
3.    Rehabilitation interventions need to be better in quality so as to prevent children/young people from entering the process again. JLOS plan should be towards having more rehabilitation centers and children homes across the regions   than remand homes. JLOS should think of putting in place  a  turnaround rehabilitation centre to cater for those children found by the system to be in need a specialized attention  such as  a Tebaronda  and Rev. Keffa Sempangi Model of rehabilitation centre

 

Conclusion and commitment
The JLOS actors and leadership have a critical role to play to realize meaningful justice for children if Uganda is to become a country of service with excellence in protecting the future leaders of this country from which the Region and Africa at large can draw lessons. We commend JLOS for initiating the formulation of a Child Justice Strategy and ask for time bound completion.

Nelson Mandela’s one of the visionary leaders once observed that “There is no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way it treats its children” Therefore it is no doubt that the Socio- transformation of today’s children represents the future of Uganda.

Submitted by:

- H.W Lillian Mwandha, Deputy Registrar of the Family Division of the High Court and Chairperson Steering Committee of  Justice for Children
 - Ms Sudha Murali, Child Protection Specialist UNICEF (Development Partners for the J4C Programme
 - Ms Sylvia Namubiru Mukasa- Director of Programmes  CJSI  (The Implementing Agency for J4C)
 - Ms Lydia Namuli Lubega,  Programme Manager  CJSI

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This report provides an overview of the implementation of the Justice for Children (J4C) program during the second year of program implementation covering the period of October 2012 to October 2013.

The report also highlights performance of the J4C Program at both national and sub-national levels i.e. progress towards strengthening structures and systems at national level and across all the 16 project sites, featuring key achievements, emerging best practices, lessons learnt and recommendations for year three and beyond. It is structured around five thematic areas namely; system strengthening at the national level, system strengthening at the sub-national level, targeted capacity development and constituency building, progress of child friendly practices and lastly the structure for program management and monitoring.


Operating within the existing JLOS structures and systems, the program registered progress in the following aspects;

Progress towards Integration of J4C into JLOS institutions
At the national level, JLOS Secretariat issued a budget call circular to all JLOS institutions to strengthen planning for children. The circular guided institutions like the Judiciary, DPP, Prisons  to budget and plan for resourcing of child friendly justice integrating child protection undertakings into their respective institutional plans. Another milestone was the issuance of a guidance circular by the office of the Chief Registrar to boost the administration of child friendly justice among others.


Child justice program extended to three new sites
At the sub-national level, the program strengthened the capacity of the 13 existing sites operationalized in the first yearto deliver better results for children in addition to rolling out to three new justice administration sites of Moroto, Kotido and Soroti bringing the total number of J4C sites to 16. Selection of additional sites as influenced and guided by eminent child protection concerns in light of the disarmament exercises in Karamoja and post war recovery efforts in Soroti district. The roll out resulted into strengthened systems and structures in the new sites and increased the number of JLOS DCCs implementing and delivering better outcomes for children from 13 in year 1 to 16 in year 2. As a result of the strengthened capacity of the DCCs, innovations such as mini High Court sessions, the Chief Magistrates Courts Sessions held in Gulu, Kitgum, Pader and Soroti as well as blockage of day’s initiatives improved results for children.


Strengthening of community based networks to support children
Significant progress at Community level was attained through the strengthening of a network of informal actors such as Local Council Courts (LCCs), traditional leaders/elders and community based legal volunteers (fit persons) in all sites. In a number of sites R/DCC-led community dialogues raised awareness of community members on child protection. In all the sites, networks of partners and advocates for child protection were established and utilized to provide complimentary service to children.


Lessons emerging point to the need for increased efforts towards harmonizing the cultural and formal structures in the different program sites. Against this background, the report provides a number of recommendations which will be vital to guide the third year of implementation. There exist in the system, pockets of unfriendly practices such as detaining children in adult facilities often related to lack of logistics and means for catering for children suspects etc.


There is a notable improvement in the functionality of District Coordination Committees (DCCs) across the J4C program sites. Lessons from the field reaffirm that functionality largely depends on the commitment of the chairperson and as such recommendations emerging call for JLOS to rethink DCC guidelines on constitution to allow for capable leaders that are not necessarily from Judiciary to take up leadership of the DCCs. To foster better performance specific responsibilities need to be included into performance targets for DCC members, harmonization of institutional information management/data registers; efforts ought to be made to help the DCCs comply with the reporting requirements for timely disbursement of funds from JLOS. In the absence of formal guidelines by the sector for the RCC structure, J4C has strengthened regional representatives’ capacity to monitor and supervise justice service delivery in their areas of jurisdiction with laudable success. Nonetheless, efforts to formalize this structure ought to be fast-tracked to further enhance their supervisory role over the DCCs in the different regio

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The Government of Uganda ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990. As a signatory to the CRC, the Government of Uganda pledged to implement the provisions of the Convention to its fullest by putting in place administrative and institutional measures for the realisation of these commitments. The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) was adopted by the Organisation of African Unity in 1990 with the purpose of localising the provisions of the CRC within the African context. Uganda signed and ratified the ACRWC in 1992 and 1994 (respectively).


The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 (Constitution) recognises the rights of the child and specifically provides for children’s right to health, right to education, and right to protection from exploitation. The Constitution also states that a child offender who is kept in lawful custody or detention shall be kept separately from adult offenders.


Uganda adopted the Children Act, Chapter 59 of the Laws of Uganda on August 1, 1997. The Children Act passes into national law, the rights of the child and the associated protections, duties and responsibilities contained in the CRC and the ACRWC.

The Children Act further puts into effect the Constitutional provisions on children. The Children Act was enacted to:
♣    Reform and collate the law relating to children;
♣    Provide for the care, protection and maintenance of children;
♣    Provide for local authority support for children;
♣    Establish the Family and Children Court; and
♣    Make provision for children charged with offences and for other related purposes.

Other national laws relevant to children include the Domestic Violence Act, 2010; the Education Act 2008, Chapter 127; the Penal Code Act, Chapter 120; the Births and Deaths Registration Act, Chapter 309; and the National Council for Children Act, Chapter 60. A comprehensive list of Ugandan law and policy relevant to children is set out in the Unicef Uganda/ FIDA publication ‘A Collection of Children Laws.’

DOWNLOAD: Journey to the amendment of the Children Amendment Act

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The Justice for Children (J4C) Programme is an initiative of the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) funded by UNICEF and implemented by the Centre for Justice Studies and Innovations (CJSI). The Program is aimed at strengthening the overall capacity of the justice sector to respond to the needs of children in the justice system. The J4C Programme advocates for justice for all children, not only children in conflict with the law, but child victims, child witnesses, missing and abandoned children – broadly children in contact with the justice system.


The child-friendly best practices report is the outcome of a documentation activity undertaken for the purpose of collecting and recording best practices arising out of the J4C Programme. The purpose of this report is to inform the forthcoming administrative guidelines for a child-friendly justice system. The best practices documented in this report and observed at J4C Programme sites demonstrate conclusively that the J4C Programme has had a transformative effect on justice for children at its 16 programme sites across Uganda. This conclusion is supported by reduced case back log, higher rates of diversion and faster disposal of cases involving children.


The J4C Programme has improved child-friendly practices across the system, and has been particularly effective in embedding best practices in the following areas:


♣    Diversion and detention practices: Police stations at J4C Programme sites now utilise diversion where appropriate for children’s cases, are mindful of using detention as a last resort for children, hold children in cells separate to adults, and are aware of the legal time limits for detention of children.
♣    Record keeping and data management: J4C Programme sites show improved record keeping and disaggregation of data relating to children (primarily at police stations). This enables key actors to monitor and support children throughout their contact with the justice system.
♣    Strengthened sectoral coordination and functionality: The J4C Programme has revived the functionality of JLOS actors. At J4C Programme sites District Chain Linked Committees (DCCs) demonstrate strengthened coordination, planning, accountability and collaboration. The J4C Programme has also engaged the regional coordination mechanisms. This has the effect of enhancing the administration of justice – not only in respect of children, but more broadly.
♣    Specialised support for children: The J4C Programme has mobilised fit persons to play a specialised support role for children in contact with the justice system. The J4C Programme, through ongoing technical support and relationship building, has further succeeded in achieving a high degree of acceptance for the role of fit persons amongst JLOS actors.
♣    Child-friendly court proceedings: The J4C Programme has provided strategic technical and logistical support to Magistrates and Resident State Attorneys, boosting their awareness of child rights and increasing the use of child-friendly practices such as prioritizing or fast tracking children’s cases, and hearing children’s matters in chambers.
♣    National level engagement – The J4C Programme operationalised the national level JLOS Taskforce for Children (Steering Committee). With J4C Programme support, the Steering Committee successfully advocated for the integration of child-related issues into JLOS planning and M&E frameworks; and enhanced communication and coordination between national and sub-national initiatives. A clear outcome of J4C Programme interventions is an increase in JLOS budgeting for child-related issues over the past two years.
The report concludes with an analysis of best practices, highlighting areas where policy change and/or specific guidelines have the potential to further improve child friendly practices in Uganda. The analysis covers high priority issues raised during interviews for this report and is intended to inform the forthcoming administrative guidelines for a child-friendly justice system.

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Sunday, 16 August 2015 06:54

Justice for Children Programme Goals

The Justice for Children Programme is intended to yield three critical results:

  • Strengthened children’s rights, accountability and good governance by key government institutions, civil society entities and mechanisms including traditional structures in order to contribute to improved security, protection, access to justice and reconciliation for children;
  • A conducive legal and policy environment of entrenched accountability for Gender-based Violence (GBV) prevention and response (for women and children), as well as increased access to and availability of high quality, child-friendly GBV services for GBV survivors who self-report; and
  • Established national and “sub-national” (regional and local-level) justice for children platforms and systems owned and driven by JLOS leading to sustainable results for children.


The ultimate (primary) beneficiaries of this Programme are Ugandan children, families and communities, the typical users of the justice system. Children at risk of, or victims of, violence and those in conflict with the law will access holistic, child-friendly services that address their vulnerability and protect their best interests, in consonance with international norms and standards enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

The secondary beneficiary of the J4C Programme is the JLOS Justice for Children System comprising of thirteen key institutions advancing justice in Uganda. The cornerstone of these institutions is made up of the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development; Uganda Police Force (UPF); Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP); the Judiciary; the Uganda Law Reform Commission; the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs; the Ministry of Local Government – Local Council Courts (LCC); the Law Development Centre; and the legal fraternity under the Uganda Law Society.
The commitment and involvement of these cornerstone JLOS institutions under the J4C Programme was noted at the J4C Programme launch in Mbale, by the Honourable Principal Judge:


What we are witnessing and launching today is new in a number of ways. The most crucial one is the emerging consensus in the justice system to work as a team on issues that affect delivery of justice in Uganda. It perhaps sounds unique to you that JLOS institutions, including Police, Probations, Prisons, Judiciary, et cetera, are now able to read from the same script and recommend that time is now to implement the rights of children. This is not accidental but strategic planning… It is our hope that through this programme, you will listen to the children and understand their needs as a special category of human beings.

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The following are the future prospects of the J4C program:

•    JLOS Picking the lessons learnt has galvanize  efforts to make access to justice for all children a reality  and  has picked on the process of coming up  child justice strategy that will spell out a  holistic  service delivery model to children.

•     JLOS is fast trucking the enactment, amendment and or implementation of the enabling laws and policies such as the Legal Aid policy and law, the amendment of the Children Act, the implementation of the Alternative Child Care Framework and strengthening the Probation and social welfare function  all of which will go a long way to address the challenges the sector is grappling with in child justice service delivery.

•     Planning and budget as well as implementation that involves all actors including beneficiary will enhance results for children.

 In addition a multi sectoral approach needs to be adapted to address crosscutting issues in the docket of ministries such as Education and Health.

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Sunday, 16 August 2015 06:43

Justice for Children Program Milestones

The Justice for Children (J4C) program has  made remarkable strides and has registered good practices that has strengthened and enhanced abilities of system actors to respond better to needs of children in the justice system

To this date the J4C Programme has been particularly effective in embedding best practices in the following areas:

  • Adoption of good diversion and detention practices: Police stations at J4C Programme sites now utilize diversion where appropriate for children’s simple cases, are mindful of using detention as a last resort for children, hold children in cells separate to adults, and are aware of the legal time limits for detention of children which should not be beyond 24 hours.
  • Improvement in record keeping and data management: There is no good and meaningful planning that can be made without baseline information. J4C Programme therefore focuses on improved record keeping and disaggregation of data relating to children.  This enables key actors to monitor and support children throughout their contact with the justice system and ensure timely disposal of their cases
  • Improved Sectoral coordination: JLOS actors at J4C Programme sites demonstrate strengthened coordination and collaboration through District Chain Linked Committees. This has the effect of enhancing the administration of justice – not only in respect of children, but more broadly.
  • Specialized support for children: The J4C Programme has mobilized and trained fit persons to play a specialized support role for children in contact with the justice system.  Child support centers have been set up at Police stations and courts, children are counseled and provided with refreshments before they go for trials or inquiries and are provided with a friendly court environment. The J4C Programme, through ongoing technical support and relationship building, has further succeeded in achieving a high degree of acceptance for the role of fit persons amongst JLOS actors. These are first contact and focal person for children. They provide counseling and guidance, they offer shelter for children in conflict with the law that have committed minor offences, and they support resettlement and acceptability of children who have been involved in more serious crimes. They in a nutshell complement the work of probation officers as enshrined in the Probation Act and children Act
  • Introduction and emphasis to Child-friendly court proceedings: The J4C Programme has provided strategic technical and logistical support to  police, Judges , Magistrates and Resident State Attorneys, boosting their awareness of child rights and increasing the use of child-friendly practices such as prioritizing or fast tracking children’s cases, and hearing children’s matters in chambers, removal of wigs and making the court decorum less adversarial and demystified
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The key major partners are UNICEF the funder, and the Justice, Law and Order Sector, the implementing agency. In addition, J4C utilizes the JLOS Sub- National level actors who include the main stream JLOS institutions as well as NSAs  The Sector response to children is   premised on three mutually reinforcing frameworks. One is the UNICEF SAFE framework (of creating an enabling knowledge, policy, legislative, budgetary and practice environment for keeping children safe). The second is the JLOS vision of Justice for All (through enhanced access to justice for all particularly marginalized and vulnerable groups).

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The Justice for Children (J4C) Program (2011-2014) is an initiative of the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) funded by UNICEF . The program which operates at both national and sub-national level strives to strengthen the capacity of JLOS institutions to better respond to the justice needs of all children interfacing with the justice system including children in conflict with the law, child victims, witnesses, missing and abandoned children. The program is a proof of concept that unified, system-based response to justice for children, utilizing various platforms both at National level and sub national levels to enhance services for all children that come into contact with the justice system.


The program objectives are three fold; one is to deliver strengthened and harmonise policies, legal and administrative frameworks in line with international treaties and standards. Two is to deliver a more responsive sub-national service delivery platform that ensures protection, care, support and safeguards for children in contact with the system. Lastly, the J4C Program seeks to deliver and demonstrate that results for children in line with the Sector and global justice for children indicators are achievable.


At National Level, the program utilizes the JLOS planning, implementation and monitoring frameworks to integrate child justice issues while at the sub national level, the program utilizes the District Coordination Committees (DCC). The DCCs are comprised of JLOS institutions represented presented in a district together with key civil society actors. DCCs represent a critical platform for embedding sustainable, child-friendly practices and procedures into the administration of justice. More specifically, the J4C program works through DCCs to pursue:
-    diversion of all child petty offenders from the formal justice system
-    zero tolerance for the detention of children in adult facilities
-    use of custodial sentences as a measure of last resort
-    fast tracking of cases of children in accordance with the time standards laid out in the Children Act of Uganda, CAP 59
-    fair and child-sensitive treatment in the pursuit of justice

The J4C Program staff working within the JLOS structure at National and Sub National Level provide technical and in-kind support strategically designed for sustainability to ensure lasting changes in the administration of Justice for children in Uganda along the three overarching program of objectives.

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