Sunday, September 21, 2014

JLOS impact getting visible across Uganda

JLOS impact getting visible across Uganda The Justice, Law and Order Sector’s work is being noticed across the country with the construction of JLOS centres to help people access justice. There is, for instance, the new Gulu Remand Home which is now housing 44 children on capital and minor offences. The facility which was commissioned in July 2009 at Pece, Laroo Division in Gulu municipality is intended to provide accommodation to child criminal offenders as they await trial in courts of law. Those who are convicted are transferred to Kampiringisa, the only national children rehabilitation centre located in Mpigi district. Evaline Akello, the Assistant Probation and Welfare Officer at the Gulu Remand Home is impressed by what JLOS’s work and the support of Unicef and other donors have extended towards improving the justice centres in the country. “Here we are happy to have this kind of facility because it has led to reduction in the number of children escaping from custody,” Akello says. She, however, observes that although child offenders now have good shelter, there are several challenges still facing the remand home. For instance, the boarding rooms, which were meant to accommodate 20 boys and 20 girls are now overcrowded with over 40 boys remanded at the facility. There is inadequate food for the remand children besides shortage of vehicles to transport them to health centres when they fall sick. “These are some of the problems that undermine the good things that have been registered by JLOS. The district budget for the remand home is very small and can only allow for the purchase of half the food the children are recommended to eat each day. “These children are still growing, they need to feed well. But we don’t have enough food here. Their uniforms which were provided by the Ministry of Labour need replacement just like their beddings. Our electricity was also recently cut off due to non-payment of bills and all these challenges negatively impact on our work,” Akello explains. The remand home is also under-staffed. There has been a sharp rise in reported criminal cases at Kiryandongo Police Station, another new JLOS facility. However, this has been attributed to police access rather than a surge in crime rate. Before the police station was set up, it was difficult for the residents to travel a long distance to report crime in their localities. But with the police station near them, it is now easy to report crime and probably this explains the perceived rising crime incidence. “It’s surprising but true. Previously we could hardly receive people here reporting about crime in their localities. But now the reported criminal cases have gone up. I think it has to do with the visibility of the police station and maybe the fact that it’s new attracts people,” says Detective Inspector David Ojwiga who is the station’s Deputy CID Officer explains. Ojwiga, says that although the station is still small for the staff, the prison cells have solved the problem of congestion. Another police station has been built at Panyandoli Hills in Kiryandongo using hydro-form bricks and police labour. This has further extended the JLOS services nearer to the people.

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