KAMPALA – The Department of Youth And Children Affairs in the Ministry of Gender Labor and Social Development has said that it will prosecute parents of the 13 Karimojong children who were last rescued from alleged human traffickers.
Police last week intercepted the children aged between five and 15 years as they travelled in a tax from Napak District on their way to Soroti.
On Tuesday, Ms Jane Stella Ogwang, the principle probation and welfare officer in the Department Of Youth and Children’s Affairs, halted the process of reuniting victims with their families and demanded that parents be prosecuted.
She said that releasing the victims would jeopardize with the ongoing investigations process.
“We have to make sure that the case is handled and must be handled to its logical conclusion, this is a problem we feel as a country that should not be taken lightly,” Ms Ogwang told leaders of Napak and Soroti districts on Tuesday.
“They should not be taken to Napak unless the prosecution process is complete. We need to have their parents prosecuted because they are part of the case, and releasing them would only jeopardize investigations” she added
Ms Ogwang said that it has become a common trend for families in Karamoja to allow their children be taken away by people who subject them to hard labor and harassment.
The children are currently being housed at Amecet Na Ainapakin children’s home in Soroti, which is run by the Dutch from Holland.
It was also resolved that the prosecution be conducted in Soroti, and that Napak local government will take full responsibility of identifying the parents of these victims.
The Napak District chairman, Mr Joseph Lomonyang, appreciated the move taken by the ministry to prosecute parents.
He said that they have been warning parents in churches, and other gatherings to stop releasing children but have only paid a deaf ear.
“I am happy for what the police and the ministry has done, by jointly doing this, the vice will come to history,” Mr Lomonyang said.
“We have been taking this problem seriously, So far from the time we passed council resolution, 15 parents were successfully prosecuted and convicted, after they were prosecuted,” Mr Lomonyang noted.
The senior resident state prosecutor Soroti court circuit, Ms Josephine Ariong, advised that the responsible parties carry out thorough investigations to come up with clear evidence against the suspects.
“Make sure you bring all the clear evidence, all those who were dealing in this business, the parents, transporters, receivers,” she appealed.
The regional police spokesperson East Kyoga Mr Michael Odongo confirmed that they have so far arrested three suspects.
Police arrested the driver James Richard Okileng 27 identified as a resident of Achowa Sub County in Kapelebyong and his conductor before they arrested Grace Asio 28, a resident of Asuret Sub County.