Across sub-Saharan Africa, where 350 million young people often subsist amid poverty, orphanhood and separation from their parents, running afoul of the law is a fact of life.
Juvenile justice here is, in almost every sense, an oxymoron.
Children languished in rehabilitation centers with little food, few beds, no activities, not even electricity.
Ambrose, a 17-year-old with hooded eyes, hails from Mpigi, west of Uganda’s capital, Kampala. He is detained in the Naguru Remand Home in Kampala, a complex of brick halls, their windows shrouded in wire mesh, built in 1954 for 45 inmates. On this day, it holds 98.
The crime he is accused of — and which he denies — is having sex with his employer’s 16-year-old daughter. Underage sex is called defilement here, and 36 of Naguru’s 86 boys, ages 12 to 17, face defilement charges. The penalty, in theory, is death.