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CUSTODIAL CONDITIONS OF JUVENILES IN UGANDA

Uganda has four functioning detention centres in the whole country serving a population of 36 million. These centres house juveniles awaiting trial. There is only one rehabilitation centre in the whole country called Kampiringisa Rehabilitation Centre. This houses juveniles who are already convicted and sentenced.

When I visited Nagulu detention centre, I was impressed by the conditions under which the children were sleeping. The buildings were painted and they had good bedding. Girls were separated from boys, and juveniles indicted of serious crimes were separated from the rest. Children were dressed in clean uniforms, courtesy of a NGO.

The detention centre had a computer room but did not have any computers. There was a health centre without equipment and had only one nurse. The only equipment she had was a thermometer, no gloves, no stethoscope and no blood pressure machine. There was a small garden and some carpentry/craft workshops for training juveniles.

For police cells, the conditions can be described as pathetic. They ease themselves in the bucket at night, and inmates take turns to power the excrete in the morning.

Nevertheless, a visit to Kampiringisa where they send juveniles for rehabilitation showed a different story. The place was dilapidated and looked miserable. The children looked miserable as well. It was over congested. The place is in the middle of nowhere, perhaps intended to ensure that children do not escape from detention. There were no mental health or drug rehabilitation services. There were no educational programmes for juveniles, thus resulting in a discontinuity in education for these children. The only training available was geared towards skill development. Some children complained of torture, beatings, isolation, restraints and humiliation when they committed certain transgressions like fighting with their fellow inmates. These findings rime with Moore’s findings in 2010 (Moore, 2010). The US Department of State report for 2013 on Uganda indicates that as of August 2013 the Kampala remand home, designed for 45 children, held 1374, while the Nagulu detention centre, designed for 30 children, held 116 (US Department of State 2013).

 
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