The office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has launched a children’s courtroom where they will be prepared and interviewed before they are produced in court as witnesses.
The office will be set in 12 regions of the country that have High Courts. The courtrooms will be set up in Masaka, Lira, Jinja, Arua, Gulu, Mbale, Soriti, Masindi, Kabale among others.
The DPP Mike Chibita launched the children’s courtroom on August 29th, 2018.
‘’The courtroom will help in handling of crimes of children who come into contact with law as child victims of the crime, child witnesses and children in conflict with the law,” DPP Chibita explained.
The children’s courtroom will serve as a reception and holding space for child victims, preparation room, interview and therapeutic room for emotional healing and child offenders and children at risk before having their voices heard in judicial proceeding.
Chibita said the courtroom has been set up because his office did not a mechanism to handle crimes involving children since most were set up to deal with adults.
The courtroom, however, still lacks trained children related cases prosecutors who can effectively engage them.
Chibita noted that, ‘’Prosecutors are not trained to be social workers, counselors or psychologists who can properly engage children. We also lack special waiting rooms at court, witness protection legislations and inadequate psycho social support services to victims of crime.’’
The courtroom comes at a time when there has been a slight drop in cases of defilement.
Referring to the 2017/2018 report, Chibita revealed that court had registered a reduction of 1518 aggravated defilement cases compared to 2,425 in the year 2016/2017 and a reduction from 4060 cases of simple defile in 2016/2017 to 2516 cases in 2017/2018.
Betty Kasiko, a UK official under the department of UK for international development support commended the DPP office and said that UK government is committed to offer support to the Ugandan government to provide judicial services to its citizen.
‘’The UK government is still committed to support the government of Uganda to achieve its goal to give justice to its people, ‘’ said Betty Kasiko.