PUBLISHED — 8th, June 2022

The Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has launched a new law aimed at protecting children in the city by prohibiting exploitation of children.

Known as the Kampala Capital City Child Protection Ordinance 2022, 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 law which was launched by the Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago on June 8, at Hotel Africana comes at a time when the city is struggling with the increasing number of street children.

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.

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.

Beyond the street children, the law also prohibits employment of children as a domestic servant; working in a kitchen of a restaurant and any work that prohibits a child from attending basic educational programs.

It is required by law that every parent or guardian shall ensure that every child under his or her care is protected from harmful or hazardous employment. It also prohibits child sexual exploitation, video halls, gaming halls and bars.

An owner, manager, person in charge or employee of a bar, video hall, gaming hall, disco or other public place where films with any kind of viewer restrictions are shown shall not host a child on his or her premises.

Renting out, leasing or giving a room, make-shift accommodation, house, tent, car, vessel or hut to a child for illegal and immoral activities including prostitution and drug consumption is also banned.

Acts that encourage children to remain on the street are prohibited, an act designed to encourage the continued stay of children on the street includes; handing a child on a street item including food, money or clothing; and luring a child from the street for group activity with an intention of returning them to the street.

“This law is not about criminalizing street begging. When formulating it we had to strike a balance between humanitarian assistance, generosity and using children to beg,” Lukwago said.

The law empowers KCCA to rescue any child found begging or soliciting on the streets.

“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.

The state minister for Kampala and Metropolitan Affairs, Kabuye Kyofatogabye called for more support towards addressing the issue of street children in Kampala.

“KCCA has made efforts to rescue children but there is need to do more to prevent them from being on the streets. We call upon more stakeholders to support us,” Kyofatogabye said.

He revealed that there are plans for KCCA to rescue more children from the streets.

“We are soon starting the implementation of this law and we believe it will help reduce the number of street children in Kampala,” Kyofatogabye said.

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 law makers 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 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.

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