By Tione Andsen, MANA
Even though most countries have pledged to protect rights of children, observations on the ground show that, children, young women and men remain unrepresented, exposed to violence and are robbed of their childhood.
This was said by World Vision Malawi (WVM) National Director, Hazel Nyathi on Tuesday during a tele-conference press briefing in Lilongwe as part of commemoration of 2020 Day of the African Child under the theme ‘Access To a Child-Friendly Justice System in Africa’.
Nyathi explained that these iniquities have over the years compromised their future development, adding that violence against children remains a major threat and driver of children’s vulnerability to long term poverty.
She said it was for this reason that World Vision Malawi launched a campaign in 2016 on ending all forms of violence against children.
It is against this backdrop that WVM finds the 2020 theme very timely and relevant if a promising future was to be secured for children, young women and men.
Nyathi said efforts to protect children from harm, including child marriages, rape and gender-based violence, deprivation to education, and economic participation, will not yield positive outcomes without child-friendly justice.
Nyathi pointed out that all vacancies for lawyers at Legal Aid Bureau should be filled and have offices established in all districts as opposed to the current situation.
“Currently, the understaffed Legal Aid Bureaux are confined in four cities,” she noted. “There is need to recruit more para-legals to support legal aid and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to address the challenge of lack of legal representation.”
Nyathi added that there was need to address police violence against children through special training of police on child-friendly techniques for dealing with children generally and to introduce guidelines eliminating the use of police “deadly force” on children.
“We advocate that children’s rights are secured at all stages of judicial and extrajudicial procedures including promotion of their rights to information, appropriate representation and participation of children.
“An effective child friendly justice system can act as a deterrent and remedial measure to young women and men who are vulnerable to child rights abuses,” she said.
Children, adolescent girls and boys account for over 50 percent of the country’s population.
However, such population dividends can only be truly achieved if the young women and men are well nurtured and their interests and protection is placed at the centre of the social, economic and political discourse.
WVM strategy places a special focus on securing the holistic well-being of young women and men.
When children, young women and men are fully protected and engaged, only then a process of building a brighter future the continent.