The Director of Public Prosecutions has instituted a fresh charge of aggravated trafficking against an American couple. The two had been previously charged with torture of their 10-year-old foster son.
Mackenzie Leing Spencer and her husband Nicholas Spencer, who are residents of Naguru Hill in Nakawa division, Kampala were earlier this month charged for torturing a minor under their care. The caregiver who preferred anonymity reported the case to the police and told them that the minor would be made to sit on a cold tiled floor naked, sleep on a bed without a mattress and that the couple had installed a camera in his room to monitor the boy’s movements.
Evidence before the court indicates that the couple had three children it was caring for but tortured one whom they accused of being stubborn, hyperactive, and mentally unstable forcing them to administer harsh punishments as a way of disciplining him.
The couple was first presented before Buganda Road Court earlier this month and presiding Grade One Magistrate Sarah Tusiime Bashaija remanded the two to Luzira prison.
When the couple returned to court on Tuesday for their bail application, State Attorney Joan Keko informed the court that she had new charges of aggravated trafficking sanctioned against the duo.
The prosecution alleges that the couple between 2020 and 2022, at their residence in Naguru, recruited, transported maintained, and tortured a vulnerable ten-year-old boy contrary to the provisions of the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2009.
The accused persons could not plead to the charges because they can only be tried in the International Crimes Division of the High Court.
The Chief Magistrate, Sarah Tusiime further remanded the couple to Luzira prison until 18th January 2023. The minor and two others who were in the custody of the couple although not tortured are now under police care as they await to be fostered in another home.
Christine Tumuhairwe, a lawyer who was working with the caregiver to collect evidence against the couple, said that the boy’s punishments were administered following what she referred to as a list of wrongdoings. The couple if convicted of aggravated torture could serve a life sentence in prison as prescribed in the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act, 2012.
All three children are now in the custody of the police in a temporary foster home as they await placement into another foster home.