Justice for children
Estimated number of children in adult prisons: 1400 in 2100
Estimated number of children in adult prisons: 1400 in 2100Police stations are not child friendly places and as a result put off children from reporting cases of abuse. Cases that are prosecuted are subjected to long delays, and even where the case does reach the trial stage, children and their families are often not able to travel long distances to reach a court, leading to cases being dropped and impunity for the perpetrator.
Too often children and youth in conflict with law are treated as adults, ignoring the many developmental differences and violating children’s rights.
Tanzania does not have separate justice procedures for children, and has set the age for criminal responsibility at 10 years – very low by international standards.
The country has only one juvenile court and so the majority of children’s cases are heard in adult courts. Children face being detained for long periods, both pre and post-trial, in adult prisons.
In 2011 it was estimated that over 1400 children were held in adult prisons, 75 percent of whom were awaiting trial. Few alternatives exist to detention and the alternatives that are available are not rehabilitative; Tanzania retains caning as a punishment – known as “stroking”. Children who are arrested or detained are vulnerable to violence and abuse from law enforcement officials and from fellow detainees.
UNICEF in action
Paving the way for better Child Justice Procedures
UNICEF is supporting the justice sector to develop child friendly and sensitive procedures for child victims and children in conflict with the law.
These activities are being shaped by major studies which will identify the gaps and propose measures to strengthen the capacity of the justice system to respond to cases involving child victims in Tanzania and ensure that young offenders’ rights are respected throughout the process.
UNICEF is advocating for the assignment of specialist police and prosecutors and providing support for the development of in-service and pre-service training.
UNICEF also supports establishment of Gender and Children’s Desks in police stations that will provide a secure, child-friendly environment where children can report incidents of violence and abuse.
UNICEF will also strengthen referral systems of children to support services from the justice system.
UNICEF advocates for the establishment of additional Juvenile Courts to handle cases of children accused of committing a crime, and cooperates with legal aid providers to help increase children’s access to legal representation.
To protect children in detention from abuse, UNICEF continues to advocate for the separation of children from adults. UNICEF supports the development of child protection mechanisms in detention centres and is helping to build the capacity of staff to protect children in their care.
UNICEF advocates for and supports development of alternatives to detention, including community rehabilitation programmes to help children stay out of trouble and supports the development of child-specific rules, procedures and programmes to ensure the rights of children in conflict with the law are respected, to reduce the use of detention and to ensure that children in detention are protected from abuse.