Article 1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) defines a ‘child’ as a person below the age of 18. Uganda, as one of the member states of the UNCRC, domesticated these international legal provisions the Constitution and the Children Act (2016), as part of its legal framework for child protection against abuse and exploitation.
Article 3 of the Convention further provides for the best interests of children, which explicitly provide that all matters concerning children must be a primary concern by all adults in making decisions that may affect the children. It is, however, paradoxical that some adults in Uganda have violated these provisions.
Of recent, some adults have involved children in politics. They use the social media to coach children to make statements on the proposal to amend Constitution and remove the age limits. The unsuspecting minors have appeared on social media, including WhatsApp, Facebook, and phone SMS channels, among others. Children are seen reciting and expressing political sentiments on the age limit debate.
This is a violation of the right of the child to protection against exploitation. The principle of privacy of the Child is also being violated as the child’s identity is subjected to further stigmatisation, categorisation hence risk to negative reprisals, including physical, psychological harm, or to life-long abuse, discrimination or rejection by their communities.
Adults doing this should know that publishing a story or an image in the media places the child, siblings or peers at risk – even when identities are changed or obscured. Doing so is illegal and punishable as provided for in the Children Act 2016, No 9.