Thursday May 15 2014

Judge cautions media on revealing child offenders

Justice Mutonyi delivers her presentation in Fort Portal early t

Justice Mutonyi delivers her presentation in Fort Portal early this week. She wants the Media Council to act on media outlets that publish the identity of minors and child offenders. Photo by Ruth Katusabe. 


KABAROLE- High Court Judge Margaret Mutonyi has expressed concern over a growing trend where some media outlets reveal details of child offenders.
This, Justice Mutonyi said, strips such children of their innocence yet they are protected under the law even when they are convicted.
“The Media Council should take action against newspapers, television and radio channels that reveal the identity of child offenders. This is unprofessional and violates children rights even when they are convicted,” she said.

A number of media outlets publish details of juveniles, which is contrary to the journalism ethical code of conduct.

The Journalism Code of Conduct prohibits publication of details that might lead to revealing the identity of a children who are victims of sexual violence. Such details include names of children or their parents, pictures or school and homes.

Justice Mutonyi was addressing lawyers and state attorneys from Kyenjojo and Kabarole districts in Fort Portal during a one-day training on how to handle cases involving children.

She urged government to build holding centres for juveniles to avoid circumstances where police is forced to place minors in adult prisons. “You find a whole region with only one remand home.

This makes it hard for courts to try juvenile cases,” Ms Mutonyi said.
The absence of holding facilities for juveniles, according to Justice Mutonyi, forces courts to remand child offenders to far away places, which violates their rights.

This also affects the sequence at which courts can hear their cases as it becomes difficult for prisons to transport them.