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Seminar discusses protection of children’s rights

© UNICEF Mozambique/E. Machiana
National and international experts and officials took part in the seminar. They shared the experience and best practices from their countries and recommended steps forward.

Maputo, 16 July 2007 – In the preparation for the approval of the Children’s Act and the Law for Children in Conflict with the Law by the Parliament in October 2007, top officials and experts from different sectors gathered in the city of Maputo from 10 to 13 July to discuss mechanisms to better protect the rights of the Child in Mozambique.

The seminar was organized by the Technical Unit for Legal Reform (UTREL) of the Mozambican Ministry of Justice with support from the Foundation for Community Development (FDC) and UNICEF. It was attended by critical partners including judges, legal experts, law students, police and members of the Ministries of Justice, Interior, Labour, Women Affairs and Social Action, among others.

Three leading international experts have also been invited to participate in the event. Professor Julia Sloth-Nielsen from South Africa, a leading juvenile justice specialist, Dr. Edson Seda from Brazil, former Federal Attorney in the Ministry of Justice in Brazil, and Dr. Emílio Garcia Mendez from Argentina, Member of Parliament and Chairperson of Foundation South-Argentina came to Mozambique as consultants and resource persons to provide technical inputs to panel discussions and working group sessions.
Speaking in the opening of the event Ms Graça Machel, President of the Foundation for Community Development and International Advocate for Children noted that pre-school education should be seen as one big priority by the government as a way to improve the early access to school by children as well as to better shape the capacities and skills of the children themselves.
The seminar included lectures by the three international experts on the International standards and legal frameworks, national child protection legal frameworks and the Administration of Juvenile Justice, for the Judiciary, social workers, students of law and other key stakeholders. Statements at the event included discussions of issues such as the necessity of juvenile and child friendly courts, the importance of restorative justice over punitive justice and the new Legislation for Children in conflict with the Law and the Children’s Act, currently before Parliament.

© UNICEF/MOZA-01494/G.Pirozzi
Young girl from the village of Namurava, Maganja da Costa district, central province of Zambezia.

“With a strengthening of the legal norms and the application of these important new laws, partners can work together more effectively to improve the situation of children in Mozambique", said UNICEF’s Representative Leila Pakkala, at the opening of the event. “The seminar will discuss the progress being made in the realisation of children’s rights in Mozambique. This meeting highlights the pivotal role that partners and stakeholders can make at the forefront of child protection”, added Leila Pakkala.

Several speakers suggested that measures should be taken to improve child protection, including building the capacities of social workers and social protection systems.

“One judge is not enough to decide on a case of a juvenile offender. There should be a sociologist, a social worker, a child expert and a legal consultant there too,” said Graça Machel.

The seminar also included briefings on internationally recognized standards such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice, Ryadh Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency, Tokyo Rules on UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Non-Custodial Measures and on the article 47 of the Mozambican Constitution which states that “all children have the right to protection and necessary care to their wellbeing.”



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