One June 10, 2011, I, along with Dorothy and Stella (the 2 volunteer social workers at the Gideon Foundation) visited the Police Department for the district of Soroti in Uganda. The main purpose of this pre-arranged visit was to interview the police officer whose position involves community welfare and human rights cases; to see how he/she handles child sacrifice and the steps the police take to try and solve these cases. Some of the key points from the interview with this officer were that:
-When asked how the police differentiate between murder and child sacrifice; this officer said that murder is when someone’s life can be taken and it may not be for ritual purposes and that child sacrifice is murder but for the purpose of performing a ritual or function.
-Issues of child sacrifice really came into the limelight in 2000 in Uganda; that is when they started to get these stories more openly.
-When asked if people and organizations can access the data that the police hold on human rituals the officer said yes, that if they just come and ask that they will obey them.
-The police collect data on child sacrifice when they encounter a case, they have never carried a search; it is only through the cases that are brought to them.
-In regards to preventing child sacrifice, the officer said that they carry out sensitization by going to villages, speaking on the radio and by going to community meetings. But that these activities are few and limited due to a lack of resources.
-Child sacrifice exists for many reasons includes a quest for wealth, looming poverty, family conflicts which result in a child being murdered and sacrificed to solve a grudge.
-The problem of child sacrifice persists because of poverty; when a neighbor sees another neighbor developing he/she wants that wealth.
-Trainings on human rituals and how to handle these crimes are not included in the syllabus of the trainings for police officers; however some organizations like Lawyers Without Borders had once provided police officers with some training on this issue.
-Some of the challenges they’ve encountered in trying to solve a case of child sacrifice include a lack of skills on how to investigate child sacrifice, ignorance by the community which makes police officers struggle when they try and sensitize them and outdated cultures.
-When I mentioned what the police does to apprehend the perpetrators who are set free due to corruption, the officer mentioned that corruption is an issue as well along with people not giving them evidence.
-When asked what the police do to prevent corruption, the officer responded that they try to sensitize the public and it and that it is the duty of every citizen to fight corruption. The officer also mentioned that they have prosecuted officers.
-When asked if and how the Gideon Foundation and the police can work togehter, the officer said yes and they they need help in sensitizing the community and officers.
I also asked the officer if we could be given any data, statistics, or any other documents that they have on human rituals and the officer said yes and to come back on June 14th to retrieve the documents. This officer was very friendly and even introduced us to the other officers and so we had an opportunity to speak with them as well. Some of the key points from the interviews with the other officers:
-One of the reasons that child sacrifice persists because of child neglect; parents play a part.
-One of the challenges the police face is that a child can be murdered in Western Ugandan and then his/her body parts are transported to an area like Soroti (Eastern Uganda) and thus sometimes these acts can go unnoticed.
-Child sacrifice happens every once in awhile in Soroti and is rarely reported but is very rampant in the central regions of Uganda.
-One way to prevent child sacrifice is to talk to the public about it.
Every officer we spoke to at the Soroti police station said that is was just fine that we have a copy of the information that they had on human rituals in Soroti. But when we we returned to the police station to retrieve the promised information things were different. The officer was less friendly and said that police station had sent all the documents they had on human rituals to the Director of Public Prosecutions in Kampala. I later found out that there is a Director of Public Prosecutions office in each district in Uganda, in fact there is an office just steps away from the police station in Soroti. When asked for the phone number to the Office of Public Prosecutions, this officer said that the police station does not have it. He then handed me a piece a paper on which he had drawn a chart. The chart contained a little information about Soroti’s most recent case of child sacrifice, a girl named Among, whom I will write about in my next blog. The chart contained a sentence of information on the case that I could find in any Ugandan newspaper.
It seemed that this officer wanted money in order to release any information or that he didn’t want us to find out something.
We thanked the officer and left as we didn’t want to burn any bridges and risk hindering the work of the Gideon Foundation.
Posted By Jamyel Jenifer
Posted Jun 23rd, 2011