Wednesday June 21 2017

9 districts fail to remit funds to run Gulu remand home

Food rations reduced: Volunteers mingle posho

Food rations reduced: Volunteers mingle posho for refugees in Pagirinya Refugee Settlement Camp in Adjumani District. Food rations in all refugee camps have been reduced due to lack of resources to cater for the increasing numbers of refugees. Photo by Edgar R Batte. 

By JAMES OWICH & JOSLINE ADIRU

GULU. Nine districts have failed to remit funds to run Gulu Remand Home, a detention facility for children and young persons on remand, officials have revealed.
The facility serves neigbouring districts in Acholi sub-region, Oyam District in Lango and Adjumani in West Nile but it is poorly facilitated according to Gulu District authorities.
The remand home accommodates more than 60 juveniles. Each month, the facility needs about 800kgs of maize flour and more than 650kgs of beans to feed the children awaiting trial.
It also requires Shs2.4m for its monthly operations.
Gulu District recently reached an understanding with beneficiaries from other districts to contribute at least Shs500,000 each on a quarterly basis to help run the government facility that was established in 2009.
But none of the nine districts has complied, leaving Gulu to struggle raising the funds given the inadequate funding from the central government.
The Gulu District chairperson, Mr Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, has now threatened to block the surrounding districts from using the facility.
The children commit offences ranging from murder, defilement, robbery, rape and aggravated defilement.
Mr Mapenduzi says several attempts to persuade his counterparts to meet their obligation has not yielded any fruits and yet the central government does not make any allocations towards the running of the facility.
“Over the years, we have been shouldering this burden single handedly and it’s on this ground that I will stop other districts from having their children remanded at this facility,” he said.
While receiving non-food items donated to the Centre by World Embrace, an American non-governmental organisation this week, Mr Mapenduzi repeated the same concerns and said the best he can do is to stop other districts from using the facility. “We have resolved that all the districts whose children are at the remand home should contribute Shs200, 000 monthly that will go towards running of the day to day activities at the centre as opposed to the first plan of Shs500,000 quarterly,” he said.
The Amuru District chairperson, Mr Michael Lakony, when contacted on why his district had defaulted on its pledge, said he has never received any official communications from Gulu District over the agreed contribution. “There is no document I have found in a file in relation to the agreement. We cannot just pick money that we have not budgeted for since it will raise an audit query. We are ready to contribute once an official communication is made,” he said.
In an interview with Daily Monitor, the in-charge of the remand home, Mr Joseph Kilama, said at the moment, the facility has 50 boys and two girls.
The facility is meant to accommodate 54 juveniles, but at times it goes beyond its capacity since it’s the only facility in the region.
“At times the facility accommodates 64 juveniles and sleeping becomes a challenge since majority are boys,” he said.
He added: “Food is the biggest challenge at this remand home. It is of late that Amuru, Pader and Nwoya districts have started committing themselves to extending a helping hand to the facility.”
He revealed that sometimes the remand home fails to take the children to correctional facility once sentenced because of lack of resources.
According to Mr Kilama, seven juveniles recently served their sentences at the remand home instead of correctional centre in Kampala.
“Seven juveniles, who were convicted from two months to one year, served their sentences at remand home instead of the correctional facility something that is not right. In fact here we do not have resources to teach the juveniles skills,” he said.
In April 2015, Mr James Kabaggoza- Ssembatya, the assistant commissioner for Children and Youth at the Gender, Labour and Social Development ministry, said the central government is soon taking over the management of the remand home.
He tasked the district officials to formally write a letter so that the remand home is taken up by the central government.
In the last two financial years, the central government suspended its Shs2.5 million quarterly releases towards the operation of the remand home, forcing it to run on stipends from well-wishers.
Currently, government only offers fuel and a vehicle to transport the juveniles to attend court sessions.

Voices

“Over the years, we have been shouldering this burden single handedly and it’s on this ground that I will stop other districts from having their children remanded at this facility,” Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, gulu district chairperson

“At times the facility accommodates 64 juveniles and sleeping becomes a challenge since majority are boys,” Joseph Kilama, in-charge of gulu remand

“There is no document I have found in a file in relation to the agreement. We cannot just pick money that we have not budgeted for since it will raise an audit query. We are ready to contribute once an official communication is made,” Michael Lakony, Amuru District chairperson

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