I am grateful to God for the gift of parenthood. But even if I were not a parent, I would still pray for the all children and passionately stand up for their rights, wherever they are. Today, there are over 2.2billion children living on earth of which close to 2billion live in a developing country. For jurisdictional purposes, this article focuses more on the children of Uganda.
A child, as per Article 34 (5) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 (as amended), is anyone below the age of sixteen years. But as you might know, in the African setting, one is a child to their parent or guardian as long as life endures. However old they may grow, they still pay allegiance to their parents and guardians. In the Christian perspective, we are all children of the God as written in John 1:12 of the Bible.
It is provided under Article 17 (1) (c) of the Constitution that it is the duty of every citizen to protect children and vulnerable persons against any form of abuse, harassment or ill-treatment. Article 31 (4) is to the effect that it is the rights and duty of parents to care for and bring up their children and under clause (5), children may not be separated from their families or persons entitled to bring them up against the will of their families or of those persons, except in accordance with the law. The duties and obligations imposed upon parents and guardians are not to be taken lightly but must be given very serious thought. Children have the right to know and be cared for by their parents or those entitled by law to bring them up.
In the current context of COVID-19, so many children and parents remain anxious due to closure of school by the His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in his address to the nation, first on March 18, 2020 and again on July 6, 2021. This was aimed at curbing the further spread of the deadly coronavirus and was a great turn of events in the history of Uganda just as in many other nations of this world. The pandemic will live to be told to many generations to come.
The release of Primary Leaving Examinations results on July 16, 2021 by Hon. Janet Museveni was good news for parents whose children excelled but I believe there is a second thought of what the next step shall be in these children’s education. Nothing seems as certain as it used to be. We seem to be in another normal that is quite hard to grasp.
Each of us ought to pray fervently for the children of Uganda and those in countries going through a similar experience that God will continue to have mercy on them, protect and defend them against all forms of abuse and violation of their rights and fundamental freedoms.
Reports have indicated that a number of children have fallen victims to abuse by relatives, friends and other unscrupulous members of their communities. Unless we join efforts to watch out for each child as we look forward to a season where they will go back to schools and pick up with their education, we might lose an entire generation. Every child matters, every child’s posterity is worth securing.
Robert Mugisa is a human rights lawyer and defender/advocate.
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