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Judge speaks on defilement and FGM matters

Kapenguria High Court Judge Antony Mrima has cautioned residents of West Pokot County against abetting child-related abuses and violations including defilement and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

He said the law was very clear about child protection matters warning that it would be very sad for locals and area administrators to hide such violations, or even attempt to settle such issues outside courts in the interests of the perpetrators.

“Your role in such matters should just be to act as conveyor belts so that the rule of law is applied for the best interest of the child which is paramount,” stated the judge.

Speaking during a public sensitization forum at Chelang’a Gardens in Makutano at the official launch of the Child Service Month in West Pokot, the judge noted that in most such cases of child rights violations, either the neighbours, village heads, or assistant chiefs are the ones that usually have firsthand reports thus they should assist the judiciary to practice the due justice process.

“In most cases where children are abused either a neighbour or the local administration gets wind of the happenings. Deciding to have such cases being hidden will land one in problems,” said Judge Mrima.

He congratulated some chiefs and their assistants in the region for having exposed children’s rights violations saying having the perpetrators being taken through the justice system is laudable.

He reiterated that defilement and FGM are crimes that should undergo full criminal procedures unlike in some cases where some people want to use arbitrations.

He cautioned residents against letting cases of defilement and FGM going unnoticed since if justice is denied then the victims especially children will have lifelong torture.

The judge also advised residents against partaking in the two vices since if found culpable, the punishments would never be pleasant.

“Our justice system applies fair hearing and we strictly adhere to the evidence adduced. If you are suspected we shall put you to full trial and in case we find you innocent you will be set free but if guilty then you receive the appropriate sentence,” highlighted Justice Mrima hinting that recently the court handed a 65-year-old man a life sentence because of defiling a 10-year-old girl.

The judge vouched to engage all partners such as Non-Governmental Organisations dealing in children’s welfare activities, government departments, religious communities and court users among others to ensure justice prevails in the region, emphasizing that the court cannot successfully work alone.

Meanwhile, Kapenguria Principal Magistrate (PM) Stella Telewa has urged parents and the community at large to take good care of their children during the ongoing school holidays.

Telewa said the Children’s Act is both locally and internationally observed, hence the need for society to prioritize the children’s welfare at all times because the future of the county and the world lies in their hands.

She appealed to parents not to abrogate their roles despite their busy work schedules asking the entire community to be each other’s keeper when it comes to matters of children’s safety.

“We must protect the future of our children always. During holidays it has been established that it is the time many children are abused,” stated the PM.

Telewa who is also the Chairperson of the Children Court Users Committee noted that children are the most vulnerable members of the society, hence they need ultimate protection against any form of abuse.

“Since our children stand to be the most vulnerable people in our society, their matters must be handled in a very professional way. The judiciary cannot do that alone hence all other stakeholders’ input is highly needed,” she emphasized.

Telewa reiterated that during Child Service Month, children’s matters pending before the courts shall be given priority.

By Richard Muhambe

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