As we mark the International Day of the African Child, an annual global event celebrated on June 16, it is significant to go back to the drawing board and evaluate our contribution in securing the future of our children by creating a conducive environment where they are protected and their human rights upheld accordingly.
This way, we will truly commemorate the children killed during the Soweto uprising in South Africa and to recognise the courage of the students who marched for their right to an education.
This year’s theme dubbed ‘Access to a child- friendly justice system in Africa’ is timely as it is paramount for the government to invest in setting up of more specialised children’s courts accessible to those in rural areas as well and have in place police units committed in dealing with offences against children.
Importantly, introduce child rights focused modules in police training programmes, while developing guidelines for proper use of force, where necessary, when handling an offender who happens to be a child.
It is regrettable that we’ve lost children through police brutality and excessive use of force, totally disregarding human rights provisions.
In Kenya, children courts are established under Section 73 of the Children Act. They are mandated to hear charges against children except for those in murder or where a child has been charged with persons aged over 18.
There is an urgent need to build and develop capacities of our police force in this area.
Finally, can we join hands together to ensure that community based protection systems and other stakeholders are still effective to protect children?
I’m urging the government to integrate gender-based violence risk mitigation in all aspects of Covid-19 pandemic response and prevention.
If we do not do this now, we should be ready to address secondary consequences of this pandemic, which will definitely include psychologically traumatised children. The best we can do is to protect the interest of the child before it is too late.