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Parliament dissolves Children’s Authority in rationalisation process


Parliament dissolves Children’s Authority in rationalisation process

The Parliament of Uganda has passed the Children (Amendment) Bill 2024, to dissolve the National Children’s Authority and transfer its mandate to the department under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

The decision means the Authority’s functions will be transferred to the National Secretariat at the Ministry of gender, labour and development, despite warning by Parliament’s Gender Committee that such a move would undermine the children being of tender age.

Presenting the report of the parliamentary committee on Gender, on behalf of the chairperson, Charles Bakkabulindi said that the abolition of the Children’s Authority would undermine research, guidance, and checks in matters to do with observation of child rights.

Explaining the committee’s observation, Bakkabulindi further noted that dissolving this authority will leave a gap in monitoring and supervision and implementation of policies and regulations relevant to children’s rights.

“With the abolition of the Authority, there will be no independent Government agency on children related matters and therefore, a big gap in the role of policy formation, consultations and efficient protection of children rights in Uganda,” Bakabulindi said.

The Workers MP, also a former Minister added that the Bill is silent about the government’s commitment to supporting children right affairs and protection of children from exploitation and the multi-faceted vulnerabilities.

“There is a capacity challenge already which is a danger in the department of Children that the Ministry has failed to address sufficiently,” he further noted.

The Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development, Betty Amongi allayed the fears of those opposed to the abolition of the National Children’s Authority, by saying there is a capable children’s department at the ministry that can efficiently execute the mandate of the Authority.

She gave an example that since the inception of the National Children’s Authority has not had a board to be operational and the ministry has been handling Children’s issues.

The Shadow Minister for Children Frank Kabuye tried to oppose the move saying that the Authority was never given sufficient funds to operationalise its activities to promote child rights as a vulnerable group.

Kabuye, the Kassanda South MP warned that if things change, the mandate of the Authority will not be well executed under the department at the ministry of Gender and this will have serious implications on children’s rights in Uganda.

Before passing the Children’s Amendment Bill 2024 that dissolved the Authority, the Speaker of Parliament Anita Annet Among joined other MPs saying that there is no harm transferring the functions of National Children Authority to the Ministry of Gender after all there is even a minister designated for children affairs. She stressed having the children under the department at the ministry would help the government maximise its resources.

Sarah Opendi, the Tororo District woman MP who tried in vain to question the move by the government says that whereas the government made a decision to rationalise the National Children’s Authority for her, this was not the right thing to do.

In an interview she says that the question remains “What exactly are we trying to save because when you look at the budget of the authority, what the government is talking of saving is 331 million shillings honestly 331 million shillings can’t we find this money somewhere”.

Opendi adds that it is well known that children have many challenges in this country and the department, government is talking about under the ministry of gender has always existed.

She recalls that the reason for creating the authority was to have a separate arm that could deal directly with the issues of children, directly deal with the law enforcement agencies on matters of children, however government has never put in place a board for this authority., government has neve operationalised the authority.

“So, there was no reason whatsoever for the government to come in and rationalise the Authority because at the end of the day, they also say some of the staff are going to be absorbed into the ministry” Opendi said.

The lawmaker who is passionate about children affairs says that the certificate of financial implications issued by the ministry of finance did not show the cost of this decision. she wondered what is being saved if the government is still going to recruit staff.

But I am sure at some point in time, government will have to go back to this very decision on having the Children’s authority in place because children have very many challenges, they are vulnerable in this country, talk of sexual exploitation, child trafficking .et.c

She said considering the various conventions concerning Children, to which Uganda is signatory, at some point in time, the Country will go back and create this special authority that will deal with all matters of children but also give the necessary resources to empower it to do its work.

“The Authority was never facilitated which shows that maybe there was no goodwill, it was not a priority for the government and yet the children are the future of this country”, Opendi concluded.



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