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Emergency Protection of Children by Police

The Children Act mandates the police to protect children in situations of emergency (Section 37). Once the child is put under emergency protection, the police should make provisions for the child until the child is produced in court for further orders on his/her welfare or until the child is returned to his/her parents or guardians. The parents or guardians of the child should be informed as soon as possible.

Action by Police to Protect the Rights of the Child

Police in Uganda pursuant to the provisions of the Children Act set up a Child and Family Protection Unit in 1998. All cases involving children are handled by this unit. It is staffed with professional officers who are trained in childcare and counselling. A substantial number of these officers are elderly females with experience in childcare. One of them I interviewed indicated that when she receives children who are abandoned, she gives them temporary shelter at her home until a decision is made about their next destination. Many police stations have child detention centres. Police emphasise the system of referring minor offences to local council courts/school administration to handle such cases so that children are not inconvenienced. The unit handles cases involving the violation of the rights of woman as well. Specifically, the unit is focused on domestic violence, rape, defilement, sexual harassment, child abuse and neglect, child labour, indecent assault, child desertion, children offenders and trafficking of women and children. Other than investigating these offences, the unit creates awareness on the rights of women and children and counsel child victims of abuse. This is done through visiting schools and talking to children and teachers on child abuse. Nevertheless, a visit to various police units revealed the following:

 
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