By Our Reporter
Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, has launched the Kampala Capital City Child Protection Ordinance 2022 which aims at protecting children in the city by prohibiting exploitation of children.
According to Lukwago, the law criminalises children loitering in public places, begging or soliciting, vending or hawking and bans the sale of alcohol and drugs to children.
The launch comes at a time when the city is struggling with the increasing number of street children.
Lukwago explained that the law empowers KCCA to rescue any child found begging or soliciting on the streets.
“Anybody who contravenes with the law will be imprisoned for six months or pay a fine of two currency points (about sh40,000). A currency point is equivalent to sh20,000,” he said.
The ordinance bans children from being engaged in labour activities such as rock quarrying, collection and sell of scrap, food vending, hawking general merchandise, bar or restaurant attendance.
“We don’t arrest street children; we are rescuing those vulnerable creatures because their parents are careless. It is our obligation to make them safe and punish the parents or the abusers,” Lukwago said.
A child found loitering in the City shall be rescued and handled through diversion programs by the probation and social welfare officer.
However, the parent or guardian whose child is found loitering in the City commits an offence and is liable, upon conviction.
It is a crime to send a child to beg or solicit for alms in a public place, street, building, office or any business or commercial establishment and no person should live off the proceeds of a child engaged in begging or soliciting for alms.
A person shall not use a child to propel them in a wheel chair with the aim of soliciting or begging for alms.
Any child or infant used for or child found begging or soliciting for alms, shall be rescued and committed to the custody and the care of the probation and social welfare officer.
Anderson Burora, the Lubaga Division Resident City Commissioner called for more sensitization about the law before it is fully implemented. He cited some gaps in the law and called on lawmakers to review the law especially on the fines saying that some fines are too small that offenders don’t feel the pain when paying or fulfilling them.
Burora said the fines should be in line with the current economic situations and living conditions, this was after the 2 currency points fine for the offenders of the child protection ordinance.
The Chairman LCV Napak district John Paul Kodet, called for more support towards Koblin Youth Rehabilitation Center where children rescued from the streets are normally taken.
“The center can only hold 60 children but sometimes we receive about 100 of them. Government should look into the possibility of expanding it so that the children can be rehabilitated well,” Kodet said.
The Acting Deputy Director Gender and Production Godwin Gumisiriza, said KCCA is committed to ensuring that children are protected by implementing the law.
“There is a lot to be done, to clear our streets but we are committed to make sure people are aware of this law as we implement it,” Gumusiriza said.
At the event Gumisiriza represented the KCCA Executive Director Dorothy Kisaka.
Over 70% of the children found on the streets of Kampala are from Karamoja region where Kodet says the government should have special programs for controlling the trafficking from the source.
Other local governments have been encouraged to have similar laws that are aimed at protecting children.