Sexual Offences Bill Gets Green Light In Uganda

By Anthony Wesaka

Members about Parliament have approved some sections of the Sexual Offences Bill with a proposal that hands more than 10 years for a person or relative, who negotiates a settlement or compromises with a person suspected to have committed a sexual offence.

While discussing the Bill during a lobby meeting with faith-based organisations and Civil Society Organisations in Mukono at the weekend, the MPs under their umbrella organisation, the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association, accused the police of abetting the behaviour of settling sexual offences out of court.

“We should specifically single out those persons who encourage out of court settlements for defilement cases. Girls have suffered at the hands of defilers only for police to release the victims. This is ridiculous,” the Kumi Municipality MP, Mr Silas Aagon, said.

He said girls go through psychological torture and their future is ruined, adding that offenders of such crimes must be held liable.

Ms Monica Amoding (Kumi District Woman MP) observed that defilement cases constitute the largest number of people detained in courts of law and the case backlog.

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“Suspects are arrested and not convicted. This cannot be a matter of negotiation. Offenders must, therefore, be arrested and prosecuted because most times, the innocent girl is the one that suffers,” she noted.

Bill consultations

The Bill that was deferred pending further consultations, is being handled by the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee.

The rampant defilement cases committed against juveniles has severally been blamed on some reckless parents, who settle defilement cases out of court after accepting bribes.

 The law in offing, therefore, comes to deter offenders from conniving with parents to commit the crime.

Defilement is the act of having sex with a girl who is under 18 years of age.

Aggravated defilement involves performing a sexual act with a child below the age of 14, a person with a disability or when the offender living with HIV, among others.

Defilement was criminalised under the Penal Code Act in 2007 and is a capital offence.

The Bill is aimed at revising the sexual offences to prevent sexual violence, enhanced punishment for offenders, to provide for the protection of victims of sexual offences and repealing of some provisions of the Penal Code Act.

About the bill

The Sexual Offences Bill, of 2015, was tabled in Parliament in April 2016 as a Private Member’s Bill by MP Amoding under the umbrella of the Uganda Women’s Parliamentary Association.

The objective of the Bill is to consolidate and amend the laws related to sexual offences. The Bill is divided into five parts, the preliminary section which provides for the interpretation of terms and part two which provides for sexual offences in general such as rape, unnatural offences, prostitution and incest, among other sections.

Source: Monitor

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