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UNICEF applauds the launch of first Child Act for Southern Sudan

JUBA, Southern Sudan, 8 April 2009 – The President of the Government of Southern Sudan H.E. General Salva Kiir Mayardit will tomorrow officially launch the first ever Child Act for Southern Sudan.

Speaking on the eve of the Act's official launch, Peter Crowley, Director of Operations for UNICEF's Southern Sudan Area Programme applauded the efforts of the government to build a society in which children can grow and develop to their full potential.

"This legislation is a major milestone in creating a protective environment  in which  children can enjoy their rights to health, education and other basic services, to access information, to express their views, and to be protected from abuse, neglect, exploitation and harm," Mr. Crowley said.

The Act defines the child as any person under the age of 18 years and requires all levels of the Government of Southern Sudan to recognize, respect and ensure the rights of children, as set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Any member of the community who suspects that a child's rights have been violated or are at risk, has the duty to report the case to local authorities. In addition the law states that parents have duties and responsibilities to have their children's births registered, to protect them from neglect, discrimination, violence and abuse, to provide them with good care and guidance and to ensure that they receive full time education.

The best interests of the child shall be the first consideration when a governmental authority or court or any person has to take a decision regarding the welfare, care and upbringing of a child or regarding the administration of his or her property.

The new law includes several provisions to ensure that all children are protected from all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation – for example by banning and criminalizing acts such as the recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups, the torture and cruel treatment of children – including the of use corporal punishment in schools, jails and public institutions – as well as early marriage and other negative and harmful cultural and social practices, and the use of children for prostitution and pornography.

The law also recognizes that a child under the age of 12 can not be held accountable for criminal acts and no child under 12 years can be arrested and imprisoned. Furthermore the law establishes a restorative justice system for children above the age of 12 years accused of crimes, which allows for reconciliation, restitution and compensation without depriving the child accused of a crime of his or her liberty

The Act also criminalizes discrimination against children on the basis of gender, race, age, religion, language, opinion, disability, HIV or other health status, birth status, customs, ethnic origin, refugee status, or criminal history.

For children living without parents, either temporarily or permanently, the law requires that those children are provided with alternative family care in their community, including care by relatives, or by foster parents or adoptive families. The law recognizes that children who are victims of abuse, violence, neglect, injury, maltreatment and exploitation, including sexual abuse and exploitation, have the right to treatment and rehabilitation.

The new legislation also establishes duties and responsibilities for children themselves, such as respect for parents or guardians, superiors and elders, serving the community, preserving and strengthening social and national solidarity, upholding the positive values of their community and maintaining positive relationships with fellow citizens.

In order to ensure monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the Child Act and of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child in Southern Sudan, the Act itself establishes an independent Children's Commission, which has the right and obligation to investigate reported child rights violations as well as to make recommendations on effective measures to promote child rights and to raise awareness of the Act.

About UNICEF

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:

Douglas Armour, Communications Manager, UNICEF Southern Sudan Area Programme. Mobile: + 249 (0)928 278 975. E-mail: darmour@unicef.org
Edward Carwardine, Chief, Media and External Relations, UNICEF Sudan. Mobile: +249 (0)912 177 291. E-mail: ecarwardine@unicef.org
Abdel-Rahman Ghandour, Regional Chief, Communication, UNICEF Middle East and North Africa. Mobile: +962 (6) 550 2407. E-mail: arghandour@unicef.org


 

 

 

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