Civil society organizations advocating for children’s rights are concerned over the delayed discussion of the children‘s Amendment bill lying in parliament. The civil society organizations gathered at parliament noted that since the withdraw of government Children amendment bill to give way to the private members bill on the matter , nothing is going on to have the bill on the floor of parliament for the second reading yet the government withdrew the bill one month ago.
The Executive Director of the Uganda Child Rights NGO Network (UCRNN), Stella Ayo-Odongo, said that there should be speedy handling of this bill to reduce on the number of children taken out under the current guardianship order law, which seems to be with gaps in protecting children.
She said that members of parliament working on this bill on Gender ,labour and social development should benchmark the bill and learn from children’s bill in countries like Ghana and Kenya because they have better laws protecting children especially on children adoption. She noted that there are still interest groups which are seeking that they block the Children amendment bill especially on a clause in relation to guardianship order so as they use gaps in the law to continue abusing children rights.
In a related development some Members of Parliament on the Parliamentary Gender, labour and social Development committee opted out of the benchmarking meetings in Belgium and USA to consult on the children amendment bill. The shadow Minister for children and youth Affairs Bernard Atiku says that he and other MPs he did not mention boycotted going in such meetings in fear that they will be compromised and overlook some clauses in the children amendment bill. Atiku says that the organizers of these benchmarking meetings in the USA and Belgium has not told MPs the source of funding for such meetings. He says that if those meetings were not to compromise MPs, and should have been sponsored by parliament.
In other news, the committee, failed to complete the electoral reforms law scrutiny, calling for more time. This was communicated to parliament by the vice chairperson of the legal committee Baka Mugabi. MPs agreed with the committee’s plea and granted more time for the handling of these electoral laws. Nandala called for two weeks because these laws were supposed to be in Parliament in 2012.
The government chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa said these bills are contentious and need thorough scrutiny but MPs should be allowed to go back in the constituency to campaign.
However, the Member of Parliament for Mbarara municipality Dr. Merdad Bitekyerezo asked parliament to facilitate them so as they can leave their constituency for this extra work in parliament. The speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga adjourned parliament to Wednesday next week to give enough time to the committee handling electoral laws.