His Excellency The President of the Republic of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta on 25 February 2021 chaired a Cabinet Meeting at State House, Nairobi. At the sitting, Cabinet considered various Bills, Policies, and Treaties that seek to further anchor the continued implementation of the Administration’s Transformative Agenda for Kenya.
To promote the wellness of Kenya, and in mindfulness of the central place of the family as the basic unit of our society, Cabinet considered the Children Bill, 2020. The Bill seeks to address the increased vulnerability of children in Kenya by addressing the challenges that arise from the breakdown of families and of community systems. With respect to Bills, Regulations and other Statutory Instruments, Cabinet approved the Children Bill, 2020 set out hereinafter for transmittal to Parliament. A full copy of the draft bill can be viewed at https://www.socialprotection.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Children-Bill.pdf
The issue of missing, displaced and abducted children is complex and multi-faceted. Kenya has no national database for missing children. The lack of dedicated services and a supporting legal and policy framework for missing children is not a problem unique to Kenya only but to many other countries globally. Kenya does not have legislation regarding missing children specifically or missing persons generally, but has several laws addressing issues related to missing children including kidnapping, child stealing, and abduction.
The consideration of the Children Bill 2020 is a much awaited and welcome move that supports the advocacy work in legislature that Missing Child Kenya has actively participated in over the last 4 years and shows the Kenyan government’s openness to broad recommendations for addressing the issue of missing children that can be integrated into existing national and regional approaches to child protection.
Under PART X11 – CHILDREN IN NEED OF CARE AND PROTECTION there are several clauses that now explicitly define and point to missing, displaced or abducted/trafficked children as children in need of care and protection.
“146 – For the purpose of this Act, a child in need of care and protection includes a child-
(c) who is lost and found and whose parent or guardian cannot be found;
(n) who is a victim of human trafficking;”
Kenya has already demonstrated its high-level commitment to matters of missing children. The Department of Children’s Services (DCS) coordinates and supervises services aimed at promoting and protecting the wellbeing of children and their families. A technical working group spearheaded by the Department of Children’s Services of which Missing Child Kenya is a founding member has been working to develop a model framework on standard procedures for missing, displaced or abducted/trafficked children.
As Missing Child Kenya continues its work in search trace and reunification efforts for missing, displaced or abducted/trafficked children, our objective is that our work will highlight the fact that far more children than otherwise estimated are missing and inform quick action towards their reunification with family. Secondly the inter agency cooperation, national cooperation and regional cooperation and data sharing will ensure a platform from where knowledge and experience can be exchanged and disseminated for the benefit of national partners plus the East African Community, that will be provided with new information for adopting policies concerning missing or abused/neglected children.