Day of the African Child 2020 – Access to a Child-Friendly Justice System in Africa.

Every year on 16 June, the African Union and its Member States observe the Day of the African Child (DAC) as a commemoration of the 16th June 1976 student uprising in Soweto, South Africa, where students who marched in protest against apartheid-inspired education, were brutally murdered.

To celebrate the children of Africa and calls for serious introspection and commitment towards addressing the numerous challenges they face in Africa.

The DAC 2020 theme reflects on ‘Access to a Child-Friendly Justice System in Africa’ as adopted by the African Union Executive Council, during its 34th Ordinary Session, held on 07 – 08 February 2019.

Child‐friendly legal aid is the provision of legal assistance to children in criminal, civil and administrative proceedings that is accessible, age appropriate, multi‐disciplinary, effective, and that is responsive to the range of legal and social needs faced by children and youth. Child‐friendly legal aid is delivered by lawyers and non‐lawyers who are trained in children’s law and child and adolescent development, and who are able to communicate effectively with children and their caretakers.

Core components of child‐friendly legal aid include issues of access, service delivery and quality control.    An important part of this discussion is how best to promote high quality, developmentally‐appropriate and free legal assistance in the context of developing countries that face significant financial and logistical challenges.   

Missing Child Kenya operates the only toll free help line in Kenya 0800 22 33 44 dedicated to  respond to the emergency needs of missing, lost and found/ displaced children but also link them to services for their short/ long-term care and rehabilitation.

When a child goes missing, every second counts.

Our Toll Free Number 0800 22 33 44 is in place to support the functionality of case management within the child welfare and justice system by easing communication, coordination, mobilization, response and follow up of identified and reported cases of missing/lost and found children.

We continue to work together with fellow child rights practitioners and institutions both public and private to create a child friendly justice system by sharing alerts of missing/lost and found/ displaced children in the shortest time possible to the most number of people. This has worked efficiently and credibly to reduce the time these children are kept within the justice system e.g. in children’s homes/orphanages.

There over 820 registered charitable children institutions in Kenya with over 45,000 children. It is good to note that this number could be higher than that, because there are many institutions that are not registered and hence not in the government data base. There are 29 statutory children institutions with a total of 2900 children, which according to the Department of Children’s Services is a great improvement considering less than 10 years ago one institution use to have an average of 250 children.

The best of institutions cannot substitute the care in a family of the child. Around the world, an estimated 8 million children are living in orphanages, despite the fact that 80% of these children are not orphans. The causes of institutionalization are complex and varied, but Lumos’ work is increasingly showing there is a link between it and trafficking – and that unscrupulous individuals are making money from the abuse of the very children they purport to protect.

TIP Report US Government Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report recognized that orphanages are a destination point for trafficked children, which historically had never been acknowledged before.  Lawyer Kate van Doore, of Griffith University focusses on the exploitation component of the Trafficking Protocol, arguing that – in addition to being used for financial gain – children in illegal orphanages are sexually exploited, forced to beg (akin to child labour), kept in slavery-like conditions, and exploited in many other ways.

The implications for orphanage trafficking being recognized in the TIP Report are wide ranging.  It will encourage Governments to take action against this form of trafficking. It will influence how donors allocate funds.  It will increase opportunities for the criminalization of perpetrators under an anti-trafficking mandate, and will allow for children who have been removed from their families and institutionalized to be accepted as survivors of trafficking.

Most significantly, it will open the door for similar recognition and action in other countries, ensuring ultimately ‘Access to a Child-Friendly Justice System in Africa’.

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