Home Law International Handbook of Juvenile Justice
The age of criminal responsibility is determined by the Children Act. According to section 88 of the Act, a child below the age of 12 years is incapable of understanding his/her criminal responsibility. Further, Section 101(3) of the Magistrates Court Act requires that a voir dire be conducted, if a child of tender years is involved in any court proceedings as a witness. If a child understands the importance of speaking the truth, he/she can provide unsworn evidence. Otherwise, the evidence is not admitted, as was seen in the case of Kibangeny Arap Kolil V R, 1959. If a juvenile is above 14 years, his/her evidence can be admitted without the need for corroboration. For children below the age of 14 years, however, corroboration is necessary. Nevertheless, the biggest challenge in such cases is establishing the age of the child as 70 % of the births are not registered in Uganda.
UGANDA’S STANCE TOWARDS THE UN COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
Article 123 of the Constitution of Uganda (1995) allows for the president to execute international treaties, conventions and agreements on behalf of the country. Under the Ratification of Treaties Act (Cap 2004), the cabinet has the power to ratify treaties. The cabinet, however, is required to bring such treaties before the parliament “as soon as possible” after ratification. There is confusion whether the parliament can reverse the ratification of the cabinet or if putting forward the treaty is just to ensure that the parliament is informed.
Uganda respects many of the international agreements it signs. However, there have been instances when Uganda has openly criticised some of the agreements it is signatory to, like the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of 1998. While Uganda is signatory to many human rights conventions/treaties, Uganda’s human rights record has not always been the best as Human Rights Watch has observed (Human Rights Watch 2015). The implementation of international conventions relating to children can, therefore, be considered in that light.
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