Ronald is 13 years old. He has no contact at all with his parents both of whom are in prison. In the future he wishes to study very hard so that he is able to get his parents out of prison. Dalius is 10 years. His mother is in prison. He feels sad about his mother and misses her. What happens to these children when their parents or primary caregivers are imprisoned? Who will care for them? Does the criminal court take their existence into account when sentencing their parents?
These were the issues tackled in a presentation by PRI and its partner NGO in Uganda, the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) at the launch of our joint research on children of imprisoned parents in Uganda last week. The presentation was made at the ACERWC ‘Conference to Assess the Situation of Children in Africa 25 years after the adoption of the African Charter of the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC)’, which ran from 20-21 November 2015 at the African Union in Ethiopia.
Our research – A shared sentence: children of imprisoned parents in Uganda – looks at the impact that parental involvement in the criminal justice system has on children’s lives and improvements that could be made. It assesses the extent to which Uganda has implemented Article 30 of the African Charter and General Comment 1 of the ACERWC, which addresses the obligations of States to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of children of imprisoned parents and primary caregivers. This was the first time such research has been done in Africa. The Rapporteur of the ACERWC, Dr Clement Julius Mashamba, acknowledged the importance of the research and hoped that similar research would be conducted in other States Parties in order to make General Comment 1 more widely known and implemented and these children more visible on the agenda of law and policy-makers.
Around 200 participants, including children, child rights experts, representatives from States Parties, the African Union, UN agencies and civil society organisations, from all over Africa were at the Conference to assess the status of child rights in Africa 25 years since the adoption of the ACRWC, and to develop an agenda on the promotion and protection of the rights of children in Africa for the next 25 years. Issues discussed ranged from the value of having the Charter, children in armed conflict, social protection for children, birth registration and children in the criminal justice system.
Full papers from the Conference, including the paper submitted by PRI and FHRI can be found on the ACERWC’s website.
Download the full report: A Shared Sentence: Children of Imprisoned Parents in Uganda. NB. The Executive Summary is available in English and French.
Download our short guide to General Comment 1 and Article 30 of the African Charter.