Sat, 26 Nov 2016 13:54:24 +0000
GOVERNMENT is committed to upholding the human rights of juveniles going through the justice system, Ministry of Justice permanent secretary Patricia Jere has said.
Speaking at a launch of the Advocacy on Diversion in Lusaka yesterday, Ms. Jere said Government was committed to the realisation of rights of juvenile offenders through the harmonization process of the child-related laws and through the provision of alternative care and support services for children in need. Ms. Jere said Government recently took steps to approve the child policy and the national plan of action as the implementation framework for child sensitive intervention.
“In an effort to sustain improvements in the juvenile justice system, especially for the many children who commit offences such as aggravated robbery, theft, house breaking, assault, juvenile delinquency, trafficking in and unlawful use of psychotropic substances, Government has an interest in the advocacy initiative being launched today through the Change Project,” she said.
She said Government wanted to see that all stakeholders acted swiftly to ensure that children who committed various offences did not share the same custody with adult hard-core criminals, a situation she said exposes them to all forms of abuses. “We must strive to ensure that every child in Zambia, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, disability, family income, geographic location or race, has an equal chance to realise their full potential,’’ she said. She said the launch had come at the right time as there was need for concerted efforts by all concerned stakeholders and ensure that the Advocacy on Diversion programme became a success so that the rights of the children were upheld and protected. Childcare Foundation Programme officer, Ackson Katebe, said the launch of Advocacy on Diversion would help child offenders to remain in their communities and continue with education.
It would ensure the offenders suffered no stigmatisation and also help decongest the detention facilities. Ms. Katebe explained that children would also be given psycho-social counselling support. Childcare Foundation chairperson Rogers Kaoma said his organisation was ready to work with Government to ensure that juveniles’ rights were not abused and their welfare were uplifted. Mr. Kaoma said the foundation was formed to protect children’s rights by offering social cancelling before they were taken to reformatories.