Juvenile Offenders Need to be Reformed, Not Punished – Justice Kwesiga

The head of crimes division of High Court Justice Wilson Kwesiga has called upon parents and members of the society not to take children offenders as criminals because “most of these kids are caught up on the wrong side of the law unknowingly.”

While opening up a new criminal session at Naguru Remand Home in Kampala, Kwesiga said that it’s not right for the community and legal practitioners to always think that imprisoning young people is the only solution that can deter them from committing the same offence.

“Some children suffer transferred malice whereby when adults quarrel, they use kids to hurt each other. Before we release them, we look for alternative homes where these children can be rehabilitated from,” Kwesiga said.

The Judge also asked the prosecutors and lawyers in this session not to focus on handing jail sentences to these children because it will lead them to dropping out of school hence the increased number of dropouts in the country which will in turn have a negative impact on the economy.

This session consists of 34 cases with defilement taking the highest percentage; most of the accused persons are between 6 to 8 years accused of defiling children of 3 years and below.

The criminal session will be conducted at the remand home to have the children feel at home during their trial “so that court can establish the facts without any interference.”

“According to laws governing children’s criminal trial, the session must be as informal as possible even if it’s under a room like this or under the tree provided that court has gazetted it,” Kwesiga elaborated.

As one of the plans to have these matters properly resolved, court encouraged parents of both the victims and offenders to engage in a reconciliation process immediately after the matter is concluded.

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