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LASPNET LAUNCHES REPORT ON ACCESS TO JUSTICE NEEDS FOR THE YOUTH IN UGANDA: VULNERABILITY, POVERTY AND CORRUPTION HINDRANCES

The largest proportion of Uganda’s population (78%) is comprised of youths who overtime have been exposed to a number of vulnerabilities such as poverty. Given their lack of employment and abuse of drugs, SGBV among others, many are usually caught on the wrong side of the law yet lack the capacity to fight back. Approximately 63% of the prison population is made up of youths

The largest proportion of Uganda’s population (78%) is comprised of youths who overtime have been exposed to a number of vulnerabilities such as poverty. Given their lack of employment and abuse of drugs, SGBV among others, many are usually caught on the wrong side of the law yet lack the capacity to fight back. Approximately 63% of the prison population is made up of youths.

These revelations were shared during the launch of the report on “Access to Justice Needs for the Youth in Uganda: Vulnerability, Poverty and Corruption Tendencies. The report was officially launched on 19th December 2018 by Mr. Pius Bigirimana, the Permanent Secretary-Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development at Hotel Africana. It was commissioned by LASPNET with support from the Democratic Governance Facility and the research was led by Associate Prof.Christopher Mbazira from the Makerere University School of Law.

In his remarks, Mr. Bigirimana commended LASPNET for engaging the youth in the fight against corruption as it compliments government efforts but emphasized that civil society cannot be n alternative to government. He encouraged the youth to interest themselves in fighting corruption by; exercising zero tolerance, staying righteous in all they do, making proper judgement prior to decision making, being dedicated and courageous. He also spoke about exploitation of workers and revealed that government was involved in finalizing the minimum wage classification for the different sectors and this would be taken to parliament. The Permanent Secretary urged all employers to clearly state the terms and conditions of service.

In relation to youths in conflict with the law, he said those in Kampringisa were involved in agriculture and that government was planning to establish a processing plant for them. “Other remand homes and rehabilitation centers like Ruti in Mbarara have also been rehabilitated and equipped with sewing machines”. Mr.Bigirimana further shared that the ministry had developed a communication strategy to help change the mindset of youths as well as parenting guidelines to help parents in playing their role.

Ms. Sylvia Namubiru Mukasa, the LASPNET Executive Director explained that youths in Uganda are faced with a myriad of challenges that increase their vulnerability and hence inability to access justice. That the research would hopefully deepen and highlight the circumstances faced by youths in accessing justice but also to realize what their needs are.

Ms. Sandra Oryema, the LASPNET Board Chairperson applauded development partners like the US Mission in Uganda and the DGF for supporting the engagement of youths in matters related to transparency and accountability. This is because youths play a critical role in the development of any nation. She summarized the value of the youth with a quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt, We can’t always build a future for our youth but we can always build our youth for the future”.

The event also featured awarding of three youth for their outstanding contribution in the promotion of transparency and accountability in the Justice, Law and Order sector, a project supported by USA Embassy, complimenting the earlier DGF funded Anti-corruption monitoring project. They were Ms. Noeline Naggayi of Refugee Law Project in Mbarara; Mr.Drate Yassin Jaffer, an anti-corruption activist from Arua and Mr. Magomu Ibrahim from Bugisu NGO Forum in Mbale

A panel discussion crowned the launch with representatives drawn from the Judiciary, JLOS Secretariat, Uganda Police and Uganda Prisons, moderated by the Executive Director Youth Legal Relief, Ms. Violah Kiwuka

The launch was closed by Mr. Vincent Mutonerwa, the Vice Chairperson of the LASPNET Board who presented the remarks on behalf on Mr. Phil Dimon, the Spokesperson for the US Mission who had this to say:“We would like to congratulate our partner LASPNET for the work they are doing to empower youth and advance the fight against corruption in Uganda. The U.S. Mission is very proud to support this initiative.  We also congratulate all of the youth today who are being recognized for their efforts in fighting corruption. LASPNET’s work focuses on two of our most important objectives at U.S. Mission Uganda – creating opportunities for Uganda’s youth, and improving Uganda’s democracy by advancing transparency and accountability. We thank everyone who is working on these important initiatives and look forward to our continued partnership”.

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