The principal aim of this study is to review the recent legal reform/review process in Uganda from the particular perspective of how it has promoted community-based care. The two reform measures that will be described and analysed from this view point are the Approved Schools (Babies and Children’s Homes) Rules, 1991 (Statutory Instruments No. 13 & 14) and the Child Law Review Committee’s (CLRC) proposals concerning the reform of various laws concerning children as presented to government in its Report of March 1992.
The Babies and Children’s Homes Rules which will be referred to as “the Rules” were as Statutory Instruments reviewed and approved by Cabinet and then gazetted in August 1991. As addendums to the Approved Schools Act they did not have to be approved by the elected national assembly, the National Resistance Council (NRC). In contrast the CLRC Report is a major piece of legislation which will require the approval of the NRC. Its proposals if passed will necessitate the repeal of four existing Acts and changes to three others.
The Uganda Background to these Reforms
Uganda, from 1971 to 1986, suffered massive dislocation, first as a result of Amin’s brutality and his mismanagement of the economy and government infrastructure (1971-79), and then with the increasing civil strife and break-down of law and order from 1979-86.
A rapid increase in the number of Children’s Homes took place between 1961 and 1992, that is since independence in 1962. In 1961 there were probably less than 10 Homes, this includes government Remand Homes and NGO Homes, in 1986 according to the National Council of Voluntary Social Services (NCVSS) there were 56 and by 1992 a MOLSA-SCF study recorded 75 Homes. The tempo for establishing Homes seems to have steadily built up over this period of 31 years particularly due to economic hardships and civil conflict. [Nalwanga Sebina & Sengendo, 1987; Mugisha, 1992]. In August, 1992, when SCF and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs produced an updated survey, compiled by Geoffrey Mugisha, on all known Homes, they totalled 75 with 2,882 children. Of these 75 Homes 10 were for Babies. There were more male children than female, 1,704 to 1,178. Only 737 of these children were held on court orders. From interviewing the children, the research assistants learnt that 421 children had both parents alive, 1,284 had one parent alive and of those children whose parents were dead 754 had relatives they knew of. This left 432 children who appeared to have neither parents nor relatives alive, or on whom either the children or the Home had no information. This is a group of children for whom special plans are required particularly in fostering and adoption. 152 children had a disability (5% of the total).