Thursday, 30 August 2018 00:00

LAUNCHING OF THE CHILDREN'S ROOM IN ODPP Featured

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The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) is mandated under Article 120 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 to institute criminal proceedings against any person or authority in any court with competent jurisdiction other than the court martial; to direct police investigations in criminal matters among others.

 In the course doing our work, the ODPP encounters children who come into contact with the law as child victims of crime, child witnesses to crime, and children in conflict with the law (juvenile offenders). Therefore, it is the duty of the prosecutors in the ODPP to prepare Child Victims and Witnesses so that their voices can be heard in judicial proceedings.

The ODPP has embarked on putting in place measures geared towards entrenching child friendly procedures and practices in its work, the latest of them being the establishment of a children’s room starting with the head office. It is envisaged that this room which had been designed and tooled in a child friendly manner will be;

a)     A reception and holding space for child victims, witnesses before their appearance in court.

b)    Preparation room for victims and witnesses for court, by the prosecutors.

c)     Interview room for child victims and witnesses.

d)    Therapeutic room for emotional healing;

e)     Child offenders in the event that there is need for them to come to the ODPP.

f)      Children who at risk and may be in need of advice and support.

This initiative was made possible through our partnership with and support from the Children at Risk Action Network (CRANE). This room is going to be launched today the 29th of August 2018 after which it will be rolled to the Regional and field offices of the ODPP.

Purpose: To highlight the progress so far made in promoting child-friendly procedures within the ODPP and outline the next steps.

Current Status: The bulk of cases handled by ODPP are mainly defilement cases (Aggravated defilement meted against children below 14 years and simple defilement where children are above 14 years but below 18 years). The ODPP Annual Performance reports clearly show that defilement is rampant with the highest numbers of child victims as illustrated below.

 

Sn.

Period

Aggravated  Defilement

Simple Defilements

1

2017/2018

1,518

2,516

2

2016/2017

2,425

4,060

3

2015/2016

2761

4,857

4

2014/2015

3179

4997

Source: ODPP Case Statistics

 

In the course of handling child related cases, the ODPP Prosecutors encounter various challenges such as;

1.     Inadequate specialized skills by the prosecutors to effectively engage child victims and witnesses - (prosecutors are not trained to be social workers, counselors or psychologists.)

2.     Lack of special, child friendly spaces at the ODPP offices for preparation of children for court.

3.     Lack of special waiting rooms at court.

4.     Lack of witness protection legislation.

5.     Inadequate psycho social support services to the victims of crime. What is available is provided by Civil Society Organizations and they largely depend on development partners’ support.

6.     Victim unfriendly legislation regarding presentation of evidence of Children.

Key Mile stones so far.

1.     Established the Department of Gender, Children and Sexual Offences.

2.     Established the department of Witness Protection and Victim Empowerment, 

3.     Developed a Handbook for Prosecuting Child related cases in Uganda.

4.     Sensitization of all prosecutors on the above Manual.

5.     Training of Prosecutors on Child Psychology and Development.

6.     Establishment of a children’s room at ODPP head office.

Future Interventions.

1.     Establish Children’s room at Regional and RSA offices.

2.     Continue sensitizing players involved in handling child related cases.

3.     Review the Prosecutors’ manual on handling child related cases to match the emerging trends.

4.     Continue advocating for the enactment of Witness Protection Act.

5.     Design a Special Criminal Witness Protection.

6.     Continue to implement the Public Private Partnership Policy through establishing working linkages with possible partners handling children and SGBV matters.

7.     Continue promoting use of child friendly mechanisms while handling child related matters.

Read 1665 times Last modified on Thursday, 30 August 2018 14:55
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VISION

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MISSION

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