The Archbishop’s Call for Child Rights
In Kampala, Uganda, the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Dr. Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu, has made a heartfelt plea to strengthen laws aimed at safeguarding and advancing the rights of children in the country. This call came during the launch of November as “Children’s Month” at Sanyu Baby’s Home, where he expressed his deep concern regarding the persisting abuse of children’s rights in various forms, including child labor, forced marriages, domestic violence, child neglect, and child trafficking.
Demanding Accountability for Violators
Dr. Kaziimba emphasized the need for the government to fortify existing laws and policies to ensure that those responsible for infringing upon children’s rights face the consequences of their actions and that justice is served for the affected children. He underscored the importance of collective responsibility, involving both state and non-state actors, in the protection of children’s rights.
Vulnerability of Children
The Archbishop acknowledged that children are more susceptible to violence due to their limited access to information and their ability to defend themselves, especially when living in unregulated environments.
Existing Legal Frameworks
Uganda already has a set of laws and policies in place, such as the Constitution, the Children (Amendment) Act 2016, and the National Child Policy 2020, designed to promote and protect children’s rights. However, the prevalence of child abuse and rights violations remains high across the nation, as indicated by available statistics.
According to the 2016 Uganda Demographic and Housing Survey, a staggering 85 percent of children have experienced at least one form of violent disciplinary action. The 2021 National Labor Force Survey further revealed that 6.2 million children aged 5–17 years were engaged in child labor, excluding household chores.
Challenges in Implementation
Maureen Muwonge, the Country Director of Dwelling Places, pointed out that Uganda possesses a robust regulatory framework but often falls short in its implementation. This gap in execution, she believes, is responsible for the continuous violation of children’s rights.
Efforts of Sanyu Baby’s Home
Barbra Nankya Mutagubya, the Executive Director of Sanyu Baby’s Home, shared insights into the facility’s work. The home takes in 70 new children who have been rescued from harmful environments, including those abandoned by their parents. The facility continuously strives to relocate these children to their family members or process them for adoption by suitable families.
Nankya emphasized the crucial role of parents in ensuring the protection and promotion of children’s rights. She urged parents to take responsibility for their children to prevent neglect, trafficking, child labor, defilement, and other forms of abuse.
Public Support and Reporting
Martin Kiiza Kasagara, the Executive Director of the Uganda Children’s Authority, called upon the general public to support organizations like Sanyu Baby’s Home in their mission to provide a safe and nurturing childhood for vulnerable children. He also urged people to respect and report violations of children’s rights, asserting the government’s commitment to their protection.
Increased Funding for Child Protection
Kiiza highlighted the need for increased government funding for agencies and departments directly responsible for promoting and safeguarding children’s rights.
Church of Uganda’s Annual Initiative
The Church of Uganda has declared November as the month of Children annually. During this month, campaigns intensify to protect and promote children’s rights. Activities for this year will involve educating both children and the public about these rights, with a strong emphasis on maintaining a zero-tolerance policy towards their violation.
Internationally, November 20th is designated as Children’s Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness of the rights and well-being of children worldwide.