Examining measures facilitating participation of female child victims in the prosecution of sexual abuse cases in Uganda’s criminal justice system

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Nabasitu, Daisy
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Centre for Criminal Justice & Human Rights (CCJHR), School of Law, University College Cork
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Children in most African traditional societies were not actively involved in decision-making processes in matters affecting them thereby impacting on the enjoyment of their rights. These traditions have been abandoned with the adoption of article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which provides for children’s right to participate in all matters affecting them. Sexual offences against female children are prevalent in Uganda due to the vulnerability and age. As victims of sexual abuse, children are often called upon to testify in criminal proceedings. Although children’s right to participate in criminal trials is guaranteed in the Constitution of Uganda and other national laws such as the Children’s Act, prosecution of sexual offences in Uganda’s adversarial system is hindered by lack of victim’s medical evidence, absence of eye witnesses to the commission of the offence, traumatic and unregulated cross-examination by defence counsel and limited participation based on age. These hinder female victim’s participation in criminal trials. This calls for adoption special protective measures such as use of video testimony, use of child sensitive cross-examination techniques, concealing victim’s identity during trial, exclusion of public from the court room, use of intermediaries. Not only will these provide relief to the victim but will enhance female child victim participation in sexual abuse trials. This paper examines the role of child victims in criminal trials. It reviews the international and regional legal framework regulating child participation in Uganda’s criminal justice system in part two. It further points out the adversarial system as a major barrier to female child victim participation. Lastly, the paper advances reasons for use of special protective measures intended to protect victims of sexual abuse from intimidation and secondary victimisation while testifying in criminal proceedings.
Participation , Female child sexual abuse , Protective measures , Criminal justice system
Nabasitu, D. (2018) 'Examining measures facilitating participation of female child victims in the prosecution of sexual abuse cases in Uganda’s criminal justice system', CCJHR Legal Research Working Papers series, No. 8, Cork: CCJHR, University College Cork.
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© Daisy Nabasitu, 2018