Botswana

Botswana's Parliament strengthens the implementation of the Children’s Act

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Botswana/2012
Children participate in a UNICEF-organized exercise encouraging them to express themselves through art, in Gaborone, Botswana.

By Lillian Tjezuva

GABORONE, Botswana, 9 April 2012 – The Parliament of Botswana has committed to strengthening the implementation of the national Children’s Act.

The Children’s Act promotes and protects the rights of children in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most endorsed human rights treaty in the world.  Botswana’s Children’s Act encourages the establishment of structures to support and protect these rights.

But in a review of progress made since the Act came into force in 2009, members of Parliament acknowledged that children with disabilities, those living in remote areas or belonging to certain ethnic groups, and others are still denied some of their fundamental rights.

Addressing the needs of children

Assistant Minister of Local Government Maxwell Motowane updated the Parliament on progress made on the implementation of the Children’s Act. Achievements include the establishment of the Children’s Consultative Forum, which facilitates children’s participation in decision making at national, district and community level.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Botswana/2012
Assistant Minister of Local Government Maxwell Motowane updated Botswana's Parliament on progress made implementing the Children’s Act.

But Mr. Motowane also acknowledged shortcomings in the Act’s enforcement, and asked members of Parliament to engage with all levels of society to strengthen its implementation.

Members of Parliament also raised their own concerns, including child labour, lack of universal access to education, lack of facilitates for children with disabilities, and the government’s lack of support for civil society organizations that provide services for children with disabilities. Members also commented on the lack of available children’s courts and lawyers trained to handle children’s issues. 

Enforcing the Children’s Act

Officials proposed a variety of solutions, including a recommendation that the government increase school attendance by improving transportation opportunities for children in remote areas. Members of Parliament also recommended that the government investigate child labour, which is reportedly widespread in farming areas.

Parliament members also spoke about raising awareness about the Children’s Act among the public, for example, by translating the Act into the SeTswana language. And awareness about the Act, which prohibits child marriage, must be raised in communities where child marriage is common.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Botswana/2012
A girl participates in a UNICEF-organized exercise encouraging children to express themselves through art, in Gaborone, Botswana.

Reverend Councillor Mpho Moruakgomo, the Chairperson of the National Children’s Council (NCC), emphasized the importance of building capacity among social workers, police, judicial officers and other service providers in order to implement the provisions of the Children’s Act. He encouraged the establishment of a Children’s Desk at the Ombudsman’s Office and at the ministerial level, a recommendation of the committee on the Rights of the Child.  Mr. Moruakgomo also highlighted the importance of increasing available funding for activities benefitting children.

UNICEF Representative in Botswana Doreen Mulenga noted that parliamentarians were in a unique position to ensure that government, private sector and civil societies are accountable for children’s rights.

She highlighted that, in Botswana, the development agenda for children is ’unfinished‘, and she underscored the need to harmonize all laws and regulations on children with the Children’s Act, which will ensure that all children, everywhere, are afforded the protections and opportunities they deserve.


 

 

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