A 12-year-old boy is facing trial in Gulu for allegedly defiling a three-year-old girl, a case which is putting Uganda’s juvenile justice system to a test.
The minor, who reportedly defiled the young girl from their home in Kitgum Municipality on August 13, was later arrested and charged with aggravated defilement before the high court in Gulu. The girl lives in the neighbourhood.
From the time of his arrest, the minor was committed to Gulu High court and remanded to Gulu Remand Home. On Monday, his lawyer Paul Mukiibi pleaded that the minor should be released on bail, to allow him access treatment because he was living with HIV.
However, the State Prosecutor Patrick Omiya said that the accused could take advantage and escape since his parents, had separated.
But Stephen Mubiru, the Gulu High Court Judge said that the law doesn’t require a juvenile to stay in remand for a long time provided he/she has sureties. The Accused’s parents stood surety for him.
Mubiru advised the mother to be the primary custodian of the accused and share responsibility with the father when it comes to taking the accused to Court. The court released the minor on a non – cash bail of 500,000 Shillings levied on his sureties. He will appear before the court on November 4, 2019.
Immaculate Owomugisha, one of the defendants’ lawyers who also doubles as the Head of Advocacy and Strategic Litigation at Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/AIDS – UGANET told URN in an interview that granting the minor bail clearly showed that the Judge minds about the minors and their well -being.
According to Ugandan law, minors cannot consent to sex and any act of sex with a minor is deemed defilement, an offence punishable by law. The Constitution and the Children Act also defines a child to mean a person under the age of eighteen years.
The same laws also provide that the minimum age of criminal responsibility shall be twelve years.
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