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LC1 chairpersons cautioned against settling defilement cases out of court

Luwero, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Local Council chairpersons and the police have been warned against settling defilement cases out of court.

According to the Police crime report 2021, Luwero registered 76 defilement cases and ranked in the second position with the highest number of cases across the country. Mukono district was ranked first after registering 100 cases.

Although the report ranked the district among those with the highest cases, local leaders and activists in Luwero say several other cases remain unreported at police stations compared to those that are captured at health centers after getting pregnant.

According to Luwero District Health report, at least 16,163 girls below the age of 19 years got pregnant in the 2020/21 financial year. Of these, 442 were below 15 years of age.

Richard Bwabye, the Luwero Resident District Commissioner says that so many defilement cases go unreported because the chairpersons mediate and settle the cases with the victims’ parents and suspects.

Bwabye adds that the parents settle for as low as 1-2 million shillings as compensation and medical bills leaving the victims without justice.

Bwabye has since cautioned the chairpersons and officers in charge of police posts against profiting in the cases saying they are abetting a crime.

Erastus Kibirango, the LCV chairperson Luwero says the practice has been exacerbated by poverty among the families. Kibirango has asked the police to arrest LCI chairpersons and parents who settle the cases out of court.

Isah Ssemwogerere, the Savannah Regional Police Spokesperson says that it is difficult for police to gather information about chairpersons or policemen involved because the parents abandon the cases after receiving money.

Ssemwogerere says that in case they get alerts from activists, they can follow up and charge any person involved in abetting crime.

John Segujja, the Executive Director of Community Development and Child Welfare Initiative says that they intervened in several cases but they are frustrated, making prosecution of such cases difficult.

Segujja says that they resolved to intensify sensitization in communities against the practice and appeal to court to expeditiously hear defilement cases.

Although families and LCI chairpersons settle cases out of court, several victims don’t get justice or benefits from the suspects.

A primary six pupil at Kanjuki Parents Primary School in Kamira sub-county is among those who were defiled and gave birth in 2021.

She says that after getting pregnant, her family decided to settle the matter with the culprit who accepted to look after her pregnancy.

“Our family agreed that we settle the case on the condition that he will cater for my medical bills. Unfortunately, after I delivered, he disappeared and now am alone,” the 15-year-old girl told URN.

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URN

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