Source: All Africa
Seven babies are living in Arua Prison, a survey by the African Network for the Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) has revealed.
Some of the babies were born to convicted mothers or those on remand, the survey carried out in May added. Other babies ended up in prison because their mothers were breast feeding at the time of their arrest.
The youngest of the babies is one month old and the oldest is two years old. Patrick Masiga, the officer in charge of prisons in Arua, said children who clock 18 months are supposed to leave prison premises.
However, he added, most of the time the children have no one to take care of them, hence their prolonged stay in prison.
Masiga noted that it was unfortunate that the children were fed on only posho and beans. He appealed to organisations that advocate for children's rights to help the babies, saying the conditions in the prisons were not conducive for children.
The survey was part of a process to assess the situation of children with their mothers in prisons or Police cells and those with cases in courts and LC courts that are often not expeditiously handled.
A team comprising probation officials, paralegal and legal officers are carrying out the exercise. ANPPCAN programme assistant for Arua district Geoffrey Dramani said the survey looked at the period between September 2010 and May 2011.
Dramani added that it was discovered that 41 cases regarding juvenile delinquency were still pending at the Grade II Magistrate's Court.
He added that in Arua Central Police Station, juvenile suspects were crowded in the corridors as they waited to record statements. Dramani also decried the fact that juvenile suspects were accommodated with adult suspects due to lack of space in the cells.
Meanwhile, Masiga appealed to men not to neglect their wives who are in prison. "Many women visit their husbands in the prison, but men do not visit their wives. It is unfortunate that men consider their wives to be outcasts once they are imprisoned, " he said.
Arua Prison, which was meant for 250 people, currently has 774 inmates.