By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
September 15, 2013 (BENTIU) – Police in South Sudan’s Unity State say they have arrested 60 street children in Bentiu and Rubkotna in the last week.
- Map of South Sudan’s Unity State.
Hussein Girich, the director of criminal investigation in Unity state police said a joint team comprising of police and legal officers had agreed on the arrest of the street children.
“Based on a meeting we conducted, we agreed to reduce on the number of street children in Rubkotna and Bentiu town”, said Girich.
Girich said the meeting was attended by the police, social workers and the office of the attorney general.
Investigations by Unity state’s ministry of social development and child welfare found that the children abandon their homes and resort to gambling on the streets.
The arrested street children are accused of theft and burglary.
But Latjor Kueth Jal, a legal administrator in the office of the Unity state attorney general said the children won’t be charged for the crimes they are alleged to have committed.
Jal says it is the parents of the children who should be held responsible.
He urged the public to desist from holding the street children accountable saying they can not be charged before the courts of law since they are minors.
State minister of social development and child welfare Mary Paul Ngundeng said it is the intention of government to rid the streets of children.
Traders in Rubkotna and Bentiu lodged a petition to the government accusing the street children of damaging their properly and merchandise in busy markets in Bentiu and Rubkotna.
Officials say the arrested children will only be released if their parents sign a commitment that they will take care of their children as required by the law.
It is not clear for how long the children will continue to held by police before being released.