Juvenile Justice - National Diversion Framework (2018)

Bringing the child justice system into line with international standards

Group photo with published National Diversion Framework


The National Diversion Framework sets out the scope, criteria, process and options for the use of diversion in Zambia. It aims to assist all stakeholders, including the law enforcement agencies, Social Welfare, Public Prosecutors, Magistrates and NGO service providers to respond to child offending by way of diversion out of the formal court proceedings, in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The National Framework was also developed in the context of national reform efforts, which are aimed at bringing the Zambian child justice system in line with international standards. Provisions applying specifically to children in conflict with the law are mostly contained in the Juveniles Act, Cap 53 of the Laws of Zambia which contains provisions on preliminary proceedings (including bail and remand); and the establishment and procedure of the Juvenile Courts. Other general laws will also apply to children in conflict with the law, including the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. However, the child justice system is undergoing reform. A referendum held in 2016 on the introduction of a Bill of Rights (containing provisions on children’s rights) into the Constitution of Zambia was not passed due to insufficient voter turn-out; however, diversion is explicitly included in the Children Code Bill currently before Parliament.

The National Diversion Framework was developed following an initial assessment of diversion and alternative sentencing practices in Zambia, led by the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services, supported by UNICEF, and carried out by an International Consultant and a National Consultant in June 2016.

Cover page of National Diversion Framework document
Commissioned by Ministry of Community Development and Social Services/UNICEF
Publication date

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