Namibia's children celebrated

Access to child-friendly justice in Namibia during Covid-19

28 September 2020 | Events

Namibia, through the ministry of gender equality, poverty eradication and social welfare and in partnership with UNICEF and other key stakeholders, celebrates the day of the Namibian Child today, reflecting on the challenges faced by children who find themselves in conflict with the law to pave a way to ensure access to a child-friendly justice system in the country.
To commemorate the day, minister Doreen Sioka said, “A child-friendly justice system should ensure that the best interests of the child are given primary consideration. It should be a system that better serves and protects all children irrespective of their socio-economic or cultural backgrounds.”
Despite the adoption of laws that are specific to children by African governments and the considerable investment into their protection, for several reasons, scores of children are still unable to access or benefit from child-friendly justice systems in a meaningful way.
Global reports indicate that more than 1 million children worldwide are lawfully detained by law enforcement agencies. In many prisons and institutions, children and young persons are often denied the right to medical care, education, safety and protection and individual development.
Government’s commitment to building a child-friendly justice system is evident through the enactment of the Child Care and Protection Act. (Act No. 3 of 2015) that recognises fundamental principles of a child-friendly justice system.
The act is in line with the Convention of the Rights on the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children, has resulted in various capacity development exercises of all key government official to ensure that the fundamental principles of child-friendly justice system contained in the Act, are adhered to.

‘Lifelong impact’
“When a child is believed to have committed a crime, the way the justice system responds can have a lifelong impact – positive or negative,” said Rachel Odede, UNICEF representative to Namibia. “Following the principles established by the Convention on the Rights of a Child, we need to treat children with care, sensitivity and respect throughout any procedure or case, with special attention for their wellbeing and needs, and with full respect for their physical and psychological integrity, irrespective of their capacity or legal status. This calls for our individual and collective effort especially during emergencies such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.”
To address some of these challenges, in line with the implementation of the Child Care and Protection Act, (Act No 3 of 2015), this year in June, the Namibian Police Force in partnership with the ministry of justice and the ministry of gender equality, poverty eradication and social welfare embarked on a training for law enforcement officials. The training was supported by UNICEF aimed at equipping them, as well as other officials in their response to child protection issues, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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