Parliament urged to fast track the enactment of the children bill in a bid to strengthen the justice framework for children

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The National Assembly is being urged to fast-track the enactment of the Children’s Bill 2019 that seeks to align the children’s Act with the constitution of Kenya.

Speaking during the launch of the Day Of African Child 2020 Celebrations in Nairobi, Hon. Lady Justice Martha Koome, Chairperson, National Council on Administrative Justice urged parliament to ensure the enactment of the Children’s Act, aligns with the 2010 constitution.

Justice Koome says the delayed implementation of the act is impeding the smooth delivery of justice to children”.  Efforts to overhaul the Children Act started in 2010, with the help of UNICEF and the National Council for Children Services.

“We further call of the Director of Public Prosecutions to avail recording devices for timely collection of evidence from victims of sexual violence, and reduce the need of victims testifying again in court. The Kenya prison service should ensure that the children accompanying mothers in jail should are safeguarded from the risksof COVID -19. The Law Society of Kenya should ensure that children have an advocate for all cases, “noted Justice Koome.

The 2020 celebrations’  theme, “ Access to a Child-Friendly Justice System in Africa, “ underscores the importance of a justice system that guarantees children, dignified, expeditious and fair processes of justice.

Speaking during the celebrations, State Department of Social Protection, Principal Secretary Nelson Marwa noted that the government is in the process of developing a new statute for children that is aligned with the provisions of the Constitution, and addresses emerging issues in the children’s sector. The PS quipped that the day gives the country an opportunity to consolidate effort towards overcoming challenges faced by children in their quest to access timely justice. “This is a fundamental right and a foundation for the promotion of all other human rights” Marwa has said.

 The National Council Children’s Services chairperson, Dr Joyce Ngugi, said, ” This gives us a chance to alert the Kenya judiciary to be more sensitive on how children issues are handled in court, the handling of cases. Many areas need improvement, including time taken to handle cases reported by children, privacy, and protection of children. “Dr. Ngugi further reiterated the Council’s commitment to ensuring that service delivery is achieved as far as children’s rights are concerned. She called upon partners to join hands in fighting for the rights of children, especially during the challenging COVID 19 pandemic season.

The Day of the African Child was first celebrated in Kenya in June 1991 and has since been an annual event celebrated across the country. Officials from the Ministry of Labour & Social Services, Department of children services, and the National Council for Children will oversee the weeklong celebrations that will climax on 16th June 2020. The celebration has its roots in the anti-colonial struggle against oppression and injustice in South Africa, particularly the struggle for quality education by children during the Apartheid period in Soweto. It has evolved to embrace and focus on several child rights violations and their underlying causes all over Africa.

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