Free, rehabilitate estranged children

Everyone should be furious at the sad tale in Daily Monitor of November 14 of three children who were confined in a house for seven years, fed on boiled frog eggs, drank water from a hole, and spoke a strange language they only understood.

Surely, no community should allow this to happen to any child because Article 17(c) of the 1995 Constitution imposes a duty on every Ugandan to protect children against any form of abuse, harassment or ill treatment.

More specifically, Chapter 59, the Children Act, 1997, compels us to provide care, protection and maintenance of children. But the community in Barcal village, Aber sub-county in Oyam District, has watched as the welfare and rights of these children’s were outrightly abused, by a father.

Admittedly, parents and guardians have a duty to maintain a child. Also, a child has a right to live with parents. But in this case, parental responsibility has been abused and proven harmful. And the home, which should have been the children’s ‘place of safety’, has become a hellhole. The parents failed in their duty to give the children education and guidance adequate diet clothing shelter and medical care. Contrarily, this father locked up the children and subjected them to violence as he routinely flogged them.

Worse, the community failed in their duty to report infringement of child’s rights as demanded by Children Act, 11(7).

Surely, members of the community had evidence that the children’s rights were being infringed on by their father but did not report the matter to the authorities of the area. Above all, the local councils also failed to safeguard children as provided in Children Act, 10(6). This law tasks local councils to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Besides, it demands the councils to designate one of its members to oversee the welfare of children.

This grievous lapse implies the neighbours, community and local councils in Barcal village, Aber Sub-county in Oyam District, all failed in their roles of being the children’s keepers. They neither reported nor restrained and apprehended the father, who denied the youngsters all their rights, including going to school as all children do under government’s Universal Primary Education programme. Yet the Act, Part III, under support for children by local authorities, is very clear.
Sadly, significant harm has been done to these children because of this negligence.

The children have lost their innocence, right to play, adequate food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and education. As the law demands, it should be in the best interest of the children to be wrested away from the father, now. They should be provided the best substitute care available for their meaningful rehabilitation and integration.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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