By Nathan Ngobi
The government of Uganda suffered a major setback in its effort to fight Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) after 22 persons accused of perpetrating the vice in eastern Uganda walked to freedom Tuesday morning.
Freedom to the group that was arrested in Sebei region’s Kween district came after the Chief Magistrate’s court in Kapchorwa dismissed with costs a case in which the persons were accused of engaging in the outlawed FGM. The dismissal was on grounds of lack of substantial evidence to pin these 22 persons.
According to Kapchorwa chief magistrate His worship Teko Lokeris, the state lawyers failed to produce human clitoris that the said people were claimed to have severed from FGM victims.
Speaking to The Second Opinion website, Kapchorwa Resident State Attorney (RSA) Aine Frank said that the case that was heard vide reference FGM 052/01/2019 of Kween District arose after a whistleblower tipped police about secretive FGM that was being done in Kween. And acting on the tips, police in January 2019 arrested 22 suspects that were then charged in court with practicing FGM in Sebei. The tipoff came after NGO’s operating in Sebei sub-region offered cash rewards to locals with credible reports of FGM perpetrators in the region.
Despite this heavy deployment of resources, government efforts will count for nothing as these perpetrators have all walked home scot-free.
Delivering the ruling, Chief Magistrate Lokeris rebuffed the state lawyers’ defence that there was no way they could present human clitoris in court to serve as prime evidence.
Lokeris noted that given the technological advancement that has seen government rely on DNA analysis, the state should have considered preserving the clitorises in a Government lab, dried them or shown them by pictures for examining in court to help pin the culprits.
He however noted that although there is increase in FGM crimes in Sebei and Karamoja sub regions, there’s need to amend the laws to aid the prosecution of perpetrators of the vice.
He thus called upon legislators from such areas to write to the Speaker of Parliament asking parliament to consider better ways of prosecution FGM crimes other than pursuing them through courts of law.