Rukungiri stuck with young offenders

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The construction of a Shs200 million remand home in Rukungiri District that started 15 years ago, has up to now not been completed.

The facility was designed to accommodate 100 juvenile offenders from Rukungiri and Kanungu districts.
Juvenile offenders are not supposed to be detained with adults; they have to be kept in remand homes for rehabilitation.

The construction of the remand home in Kagunga cell, Western Division by the district local government, started in 2004.

Mr Gabriel Kangwagye, was the LC5 chairman then.
Rukungiri prisons currently has 462 inmates.
Mr Cleophus Tiweitu, the district community development officer, blames failure to complete the remand home on lack of funds.

“When we were starting this project, we had unconditional grants from the central government and a lot of local revenue but they have since both reduced. The creation of new town councils and other priorities have affected the project,” Mr Tiweitu says.

He adds: “The project is incomplete, it lacks water, electricity and staff. The government did a review in civil services structures and scrapped employment for remand homes at district level, it is hard for the local governments to recruit them.”

Districts in Ankole and Kigezi sub-regions currently use Kitumba Remand Home in Fort Portal, Kabarole District. Government is also building a remand home in Kabale District.

Rukungiri District police commander Richard Emuna says they are forced to use their offices to detain the juveniles because the law stops them from being detained with adult offenders.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a police officer attached to the Family and Child Protection Unit at Rukungiri Police Station, said last month, there were four juvenile offenders but only one was taken to Kitumba Remand Home.

The rest were warned by court and left to go on account of lack of funds to transport them to Kitumba Remand Home.

Rukungiri District has more than 60 juveniles locked up at Kitumba Remand Home, according to Ms Batishibbah Muzibwe, the district probation and welfare officer.
She says her office cannot afford to transport them to Kitumba Remand Home and regular check on them.

Ms Muzibwe adds that there are between 100 and 150 street children in Rukungiri Town and most of them are involved in criminal activities.

The Rukungiri deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Mr Deo Kabugo, says a remand home in the district is necessary but funding remains a big challenge.

Mr Charles Byabakama, a former Rukungiri District chairperson, blamed the delay on laxity of the district leadership, saying government promised lots of projects to the district but the district leadership has failed to follow them up.

“If the district leadership fails to follow up on the project, how do you expect the people at the centre to follow up and start the project? During my tenure, we wrote a letter to the line ministry about the project so we were supposed to follow up, which I think the current leadership should do,” Mr Byabakama argues.

He adds that about Shs100 million has been spent on the project and the remaining work needs more Shs100 million. The project needs water, electricity and staff.

One of the structures is used for accommodation by Kagunga police post officers.

The current district chairperson, Andrewson Katebire, says the district has budget constraints and it would be a big task for them to complete and run the remand home.

“As a person, I support putting these remand homes at regional levels to save local governments the expenses of running them,” he says.

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