Child Rights Activists Raise Concerns Over Harm to Children in DNA Testing Cases

Child rights activists have expressed concern about the negative impact of DNA testing on the identities and citizenship of innocent children.

The recent surge in DNA testing, particularly in cases where men discover that their presumed biological children are not related to them, has led to potential harm to the children involved.

Uganda, being a patriarchal society, links a child’s identity and clan to their father, so a change in paternity can result in a loss of identity for the child.

Furthermore, the children are at risk of losing their citizenship since important documents, such as the National ID, require parental identification for registration.

Damon Wamara, the Executive Director of Uganda Children Rights Network, highlights the need for stakeholders to examine this crisis and seek child-friendly solutions to protect the rights of these children.

While DNA testing is a recent phenomenon in Uganda, traditional practices have long been used to determine lineage and parenthood.

However, in the past, men who discovered they were not the biological fathers of their children often kept this information to themselves, protecting the rights of the children.

Wamara emphasizes that children should not be victimized solely based on their biological parentage, especially in an age where adoption is recognized and accepted.

Margaret Makhoha, Chairperson of the Parliament Forum on Gender and Children Affairs, calls for a reassessment of existing laws to ensure the protection of children amid this crisis.

She condemns women who conceal the true biological fathers of their children, causing unnecessary distress to men who have dedicated their resources and love to their families.

Mondo Kyateka, Commissioner for Youth and Children at the Ministry of Gender, Labor, and Social Development, emphasizes that unless there are substantial doubts about a child’s identity, there is no need for parents to undergo DNA testing.

He urges elders to prioritize the rights and welfare of children over their own interests. Mondo suggests that if DNA testing is deemed necessary, it should be conducted shortly after birth before the father has invested significant time and resources in caring for and bonding with the child.

He calls upon the parliament to address this issue as a matter of national importance, ensuring the protection of children’s rights. Additionally, the Police spokesperson, Fred Enanga, has urged the public to refrain from taking videos of children who are victims of DNA tests.

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