This year’s commemoration of the Day of the African child comes at a time when the world is battling with the effects of the Corona Virus Pandemic. We join in the call for people to protect themselves and others by knowing the facts and taking appropriate precautions that include: frequent hand washing, keeping a safe social distance, covering ones cough and staying home as much as possible. The Day of the African Child will be celebrated on the theme: “Access to a Child-Friendly Justice System in Africa” which underscores the essence of a justice system in which children are dignified, expeditious and get a fair process of justice. We join the world in celebrating the Children of Africa as we echo the calls for serious commitment towards addressing the numerous challenges that African children face.
It is vital for all players in child protection to work together in addressing the underlying issues that perpetuate children’s exposure to various forms of violence. First, we must understand that children often come into contact with the justice system in different ways. Some of these is when children interact with the justice system due to family matters like divorce or adoption, as witnesses or perpetrators of crimes and in cases of administrative justice for nationality or immigration issues among others. Whenever children face the justice system, they are often unfortunately subjected to the intimidating adult world which is unfamiliar to them hence the need to adapt justice to their needs.
To effectively enhance children’s access to a child-friendly justice system, the system should be adapted to the specific needs of children such that it guarantees respect for and effective implementation of all children’s rights. All state and non-state actors should collaborate to facilitate realization of a justice system that is accessible, age appropriate, speedy, diligent, adopted to and focused on the needs of children. The system should respect the right to the due process and children’s right to participate and understand the proceedings. It should also respect children’s right to private and family life besides respecting the child’s right to integrity and dignity.
This year’s celebration of the Day of the African child presents us an opportunity to reflect on the gains that we have so far made in championing child protection interventions in Africa (Kenya, Tanzania and Cote d’Ivoire). Our Child Protection program offers professional services that are adapted to the specific context and culture. Our actions tap into existing legal protection frameworks and structures for ending violence against children. In our three countries of operation, we strengthen the government’s role of coordinating formal and informal child protection and related services. We partner with relevant government departments, and national NGOs to support children services to reach a standardized quality through building the capacity of various actors and facilitating the development of operational and service guidelines for actors in the child protection system. We are also cognizant of parents’ responsibility to provide care and protection to their children hence we empower them to be able to provide quality, child friendly and sustainable preventive and responsive services for children. This is meant to make parents feel the “power to parent” so that they can influence the future of their children positively.
Understanding the need for children to have access to a Child-friendly justice system, we invest in giving children and families a voice, building evidence from practice and enhancing civil society lobby capabilities to facilitate the progressive implementation of violence prevention and response interventions. We adopt a cooperative and collaborative approach to lobbying decision and policymakers. Download our Child Protection fact sheet HERE for more information.
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