10 December 2013: Launch of the 5 Year Strategy for Progressive Child Justice Reform Demonstrates Government Commitment to the Implementation of Children’s Human Rights
Dar Es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania, 10th December 2013 – Tanzania’s Vice President, Dr. Gharib Bilal, today launched the Five Year Strategy for Progressive Child Justice Reform 2013-2017.
Significantly, the Child Justice Strategy was launched together with the National Human Rights Action Plan 2013-2017. This joint launch, on International Human Rights Day, demonstrates the strong commitment of the Government of the Republic of Tanzania to the protection and promotion of the rights of children.
“Children make up almost half of the population of Tanzania. We know that effective implementation of children’s rights is essential for the growth and stability of Tanzania and to our achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that children’s rights are upheld - not only as representatives of Government, but as parents, neighbours and members of the community,” said Dr. Gharib Bilal.
Children are one of the most vulnerable sections of Tanzanian society to violations of their rights. They also find it extremely difficult to speak out and secure justice when their rights are violated. Despite one in three girls and one in seven boys experiencing sexual violence before the age of 18, few will ever report the crime. In addition to stigma and community pressure not to report the crime, challenges in the justice system, including long delays and mistrust of the system, dissuade many children from pursuing their case. This results in children failing to secure justice and leaves perpetrators free to continue to commit further abuse.
The majority of children who come into conflict with the law have committed petty offences or are street children and domestic labourers that have fallen through the cracks of the child protection system. At any one time, 1,000 children are detained with adults in prison, where they are vulnerable to violence and abuse. Most of these children are detained pre-trial and will have their cases dropped before trial due to a lack of evidence. It is essential that only children who have committed criminal offences are dealt with by the justice system and the justice system is equipped to address root causes of offending and prevent reoffending.
The National Human Rights Action Plan recognizes the vulnerability of children and the need for the Government to take special measures to both protect and also enforce children’s rights.
One of the first milestones to be achieved in the implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan is the adoption of the Five Year Strategy for Progressive Child Justice Reform 2013-2017. The Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs led this process with the support of the Child Justice Forum – an inter-agency group comprising representatives of 17 MDAs, 17 NGOs and Legal Aid Providers and a representative from Parliament – and the support of UNICEF. The Child Justice Strategy sets out specifically how the Government, in partnership with NGOs and Legal Aid Providers, will strengthen the justice system to ensure that:
This Strategy, developed with the support of UNICEF, takes the broad objectives and actions contained in the National Human Rights Action Plan and sets out exactly the steps that each Ministry, Department and Agency will take over the next five years to strengthen the capacity of the justice system for children.
“We congratulate the Government of Tanzania, and in particular the Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs, for the launch of the groundbreaking Child Justice Strategy. The implementation of the Child Justice Strategy will ensure that every child who has their rights violated can access justice and that every child who comes into contact with the justice system, whether as a victim, witness, perpetrator or civil claimant, receives fair, effective and timely justice and is treated in a manner that upholds their rights and their dignity”, said Ms. Joyce Mends-Cole, Acting Resident Coordinator of the United Nations.
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For further information, including interviews, please contact:
UNICEF: Rachel Harvey, Child Protection Specialist (Child Justice), firstname.lastname@example.org