The Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has launched a new law that prohibits exploitation of children.
Known as the Kampala Capital City Child Protection Ordinance 2022, the law criminalises children loitering in public places, begging or soliciting, vending or hawking and bans the sale of alcohol and drugs to children.
The law which was launched by the Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago comes at a time when the city is struggling with the increasing number of street children.
Anybody who contravenes with the law will be imprisoned for six months or pay a fine of two currency points. A currency point is equivalent to Shs 20,000.
The ordinance bans children from being engaged in labour activities such as rock quarrying, collection and sell of scrap, food vending, hawking general merchandise, bar or restaurant attendance.
Beyond the street children, the law also prohibits employment of children as a domestic servant; working in a kitchen of a restaurant and any work that prohibits a child from attending basic educational programs.
It is required by law that every parent or guardian shall ensure that every child under his or her care is protected from harmful or hazardous employment. It also prohibits child sexual exploitation, video halls, gaming halls and bars.
An owner, manager, person in charge or employee of a bar, video hall, gaming hall, disco or other public place where films with any kind of viewer restrictions are shown shall not host a child on his or her premises.
Renting out, leasing or giving a room, make-shift accommodation, house, tent, car, vessel or hut to a child for illegal and immoral activities including prostitution and drug consumption is also banned.
Acts that encourage children to remain on the street are prohibited,
These acts include: handing a child items like food, money or clothing; and luring a child from the street for group activity with an intention of returning them to the street.
"This law is not about criminalizing street begging. When formulating it we had to strike a balance between humanitarian assistance, generosity and using children to beg," Lukwago said.
The law empowers KCCA to rescue any child found begging or soliciting on the streets.
"We don't arrest street children; we are rescuing those vulnerable creatures because their parents are careless. It is our obligation to make them safe and punish the parents or the abusers," Lukwago said.
According to the law, It is a crime to send a child to beg or solicit for alms in a public place, street, building, office or any business or commercial establishment and no person should live off the proceeds of a child engaged in begging or soliciting for alms.
A person shall not use a child to propel them in a wheelchair with the aim of soliciting or begging for alms.
The state minister for Kampala and Metropolitan Affairs, Kabuye Kyofatogabye called for more support towards addressing the issue of street children in Kampala.
"KCCA has made efforts to rescue children but there is need to do more to prevent them from being on the streets. We call upon more stakeholders to support us," Kyofatogabye said.
He revealed that there are plans for KCCA to rescue more children from the streets.