© UNICEF Rwanda/2015/Mugabe
All children have the right to be protected from violence, exploitation, neglect and abuse.
Rwanda has taken significant steps to improve the legal and institutional framework for the protection of the rights of children and has been recognized as one of the leading African countries in indicators of child-wellbeing. It was one of the first countries in the world to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
The enactment and dissemination of the Law N.54/2011 relating to the rights and protection of the child has been a major achievement for the Government of Rwanda in protecting and promoting child rights in the past two years. Moreover in 2011, the Government established a National Commission for Children (NCC), to promote children’s rights, as well as developed a plan of action to protect children from abuse, violence and exploitation.
However in-spite of this progress, challenges remain.
According to the 2010 census, more than 60,000 children live with disabilities in Rwanda leaving them vulnerable to abuse, neglect and limited specialized care. Additionally, only 63 per cent (DHS 2010) of births are registered potentially depriving children of their fundamental rights, recognition from the state and access to essential services. Furthermore, 41 per cent of women aged 15-49 have experienced violence since the age of 15 (DHS 2010) while over 22,000 children are in foster care and some 2,075 still live in orphanages (NCC/MIGEPROF 2013).
The overall objective of the Child Protection Programme is to support the Government of Rwanda in strengthening the national and subnational child protection system focusing on improving prevention and response to violence, exploitation, neglect, abuse and discrimination in conformity with the national legal and policy framework.
Furthermore, the programme will reinforce the family as the centre for the protection and full development of children while giving priority to the following four pillars:
1. Strengthening the coordination and the management of the Child Protection System at national and sub national levels.
2. Ensuring that quality decentralized and multi-sectoral child protection services are available across the country.
3. Strengthening the human resources capacity for the child protection system at all levels, including in allied sectors such as health, education and justice.
4. Supporting Rwanda’s institutional capacity for generating and using evidence in Child Protection for policy formulation and planning.
- Adoption of the National Child Care Reform Strategy by the Government of Rwanda which outlines norms and standards to govern a process of de-institutionalization leading to the closure of orphanages and other residential institutions and the reintegration of children into family-based care.
- Recruitment of 14 social workers and 14 psychologists comprising the first cadre of the Tubarerere Mu Muryango (Let’s raise children in families) de-institutionalization programme is completed and fully operational.
- Finalization of the Scale-up Strategy for One Stop Centers (OSC) approved by the government and implemented to provide holistic services to survivors of GBV and child abuse.
- Drafting of the Justice for Children Policy (J4C) for children in conflict with the law to establish access to child-friendly justice mechanisms at decentralized levels with a special focus on juvenile justice, child abuse and gender based-violence.
Over the period 2013–18, UNICEF aims to build on the achievements of the previous years in strengthening child protection policy, legislative framework and programmes in Rwanda.
The overall result for the UNICEF Child Protection Programme is to ensure that the most vulnerable groups such as children with disabilities, children without appropriate parental care, children affected by HIV, children affected by violence or armed conflict, children who are victims of gender based violence or involved in the worst forms of child labour have access to quality child welfare services in a strengthened protective environment:
- Institutional framework for coordination and management of child protection system strengthened.
- Multi-sectoral child protection services are available and utilized by the Rwandan population.
- Human resource and institutional capacity for child protection system is strengthened.