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Uganda Court Fines U.S Couple $28,000 For Child Cruelty With Their Foster Child

A couple from the United States has been fined $28,000; (£23,000) by a Ugandan court after they pleaded guilty to child cruelty and “inhumane treatment” with their foster child.


Nicholas Spencer and his wife Mackenzie Leigh Mathias Spencer from South Carolina, were detained in December 2022. They were initially charged with child trafficking and torture against their 10-year-old foster boy.


In Uganda, Child trafficking carries the death penalty, and child torture draws a maximum sentence of life in prison. The couple had denied these charges.


The couple made the boy sleep on the wooden floor and fed him cold food. They have been living in Uganda since 2017. Their nanny reported the "repeated unbecoming inhumane treatment" of the boy, who has special needs, to local police last December.


When officers raided their house in December, police claimed to have found CCTV evidence showing that the child was forced to squat in an "awkward position," and made to sleep without a mattress or bedding". Court documents subsequently revealed that the evidence was gathered from a video filmed by the child's nanny on her phone.


Mackenzie Leigh Mathias Spencer pleaded guilty to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment for which she was sentenced to a fine of 3.36 million Ugandan shillings or two years in prison. Nicholas Spencer pleaded guilty to a child neglect accusation for which he was fined 1.5 million shillings or six months in jail.


They also pleaded guilty to degrading treatment, working illegally, and unlawfully staying in Uganda without permits. For this charge, they were sentenced to two months in prison, which they have served after they were arrested last year.


The High Court also ordered them to pay victim compensation of 100 million Ugandan shillings ($26,000: £22,000).


The child had lost his father and was abandoned by his mother. He was in need of help and support. Unfortunately, the accused person failed to manage his peculiar behaviors," the judge said while delivering her ruling.


David Mpanga, the couple's lawyer, told the Reuters news agency the boy had psychiatric issues and that the pair failed to look after him properly because they had no parenting experience.


Darren Namatovou, founder of Children Phoenix Foundation, told the BBC that "due diligence and background checks  needed to be done thoroughly during the aadopton process in order to prevent cases of child abuse.


Image Credit- Reuters

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