Gulu Remand Home cannot account for 30 juveniles who escaped from the facility last month.
The juveniles, who had been imprisoned on charges of murder, defilement, robbery and rape, among others, were last year brought to the remand home to serve their sentences.
However, they have since escaped from the facility, raising concern that they have returned to their bad ways. Residents have appealed to the authorities to re-arrest the juveniles so that they serve their sentences.
“Most of these juveniles who escaped are former street kids and they have already returned to the town to cause more mayhem. They must be re-arrested to serve their sentences,” Ms Joyce Lakica Kaboyo, a street vendor in Gulu Town, said on Sunday.
Ms Anna Angee Okot, whose nephew is one of the escapees, said the latter might be lynched since he had been jailed over attempted defilement charges. “He had been at the remand home for the last six months. He was left with seven months. We hoped that he would return a changed person,” she said.
Leaders speak out
Mr Kelly Komakech, the chairperson of Pece Division in Gulu Municipality where the remand home is located, said police should ensure that the escapees are re-arrested.
“Some of the juveniles who escaped are hard core criminals who deserve to be rehabilitated,” he said. Aswa regional police spokesperson Jimmy Patrick Okema said four of the juveniles have been re-arrested. “Four have already been re-arrested and we are still combing their hideouts to re-arrest others,” he said.
Mr Okema also faulted the management of the remand home over failure to observe maximum security. He said the person who was at the facility by the time the juveniles escaped has since recorded a statement with police and is under investigation.
The district vice chairperson, Mr Simon Oola, said other districts in the region do not want to contribute to the management of the remand home. “We are shouldering the burden of managing the facility as Gulu District. Other districts send the children here but they do not give the Shs500,000 quarterly contribution towards the management of the facility,” he said
Gulu Remand Home was established in 2009. However, it has suffered inadequate funding, leading to food shortage and inadequate manpower.
The in-charge of the remand home, Mr Joseph Kilama, declined to comment on the matter, arguing that police and other security organs are working out the possible re-arrest of the juveniles
The facility is meant to accommodate 54 juveniles but is at times overcrowded.
In 2016, Gulu District threatened to close Gulu Remand Home over inadequate funding. The district chairperson, Mr Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, said they could no longer run the remand home since they had no food to feed the juveniles. He said keeping the juveniles while hungry is a gross violation of their rights. The remand home also serves Oyam District in Lango Sub-region.