A Sh.11 million one-stop Child Protection Centre has been unveiled in Kwale County to help protect vulnerable children in the region.
The launch and handing over of the new centre comes at a time people have expressed concern over increase in sex tourism and child prostitution in the coastal county.
The centre built by Plan International Kenya was officially opened by the Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Labour and Social Protection Simon Chelegui.
The event was attended by Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya, the Ministry’s Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Patrik Ole Ntutu, Plan International Country Director Kate Maina Vorley and County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri.
The CS called for concerted efforts to ensure that children are protected from violence, abuse and exploitation and promote justice for them.
The minister acknowledged that Kwale is a hot spot for child abuse especially on cases such as child marriages ad teenage pregnancies saying the setting up of the new one-stop centre will make it easier for the police and the courts to track and prosecute cases.
Chelegui said the modern centre at the precincts of the Diani police station will ensure survivors of child violence receive quick help while having an important role in preventing and stopping child abuse, and providing treatment and support for abused children.
He said his ministry is committed to ensure that the rights and welfare of children both in contact and in conflict with the law is upheld while in police custody.
“This special Centre will help safeguard our future generations and leadership,” he said, adding that it will go a long way in enhancing child rights and child protection.
The CS said the construction and completion of the centre comes at the right time when the country is grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This facility will enable children who are suspected to be in conflict with the law to be held in custody while observing the Ministry of Health guidelines on Covid-19” he said.
He said there are 23 such child-friendly facilities spread across the country and provide for children being held separately from suspected adult criminals or alleged offenders while in police custody.
He said the facilities provide minors with a child friendly environment where they can articulate their problems and discuss issues affecting them within a private setting.
“All children’s cases that are brought to the police station should be handled at the new facility in a professional and effective manner to ensure that the children, including those with special needs, access justice their needs are met and their rights protected” he said.
The minister said he is pleased that the Children’s Bill which is at an advanced stage has made provisions for such child friendly centres which will in the long run give them legal basis and further attract funding from both the government and civil society organizations.
On his part Governor Mvurya assured all stakeholders that his administration is committed to support all efforts aimed at protecting the children in the county.
“This centre which is to be opened at Diani Police Station will help reduce cases of child abuse in Kwale County. I therefore call upon parents and the community at large to be vigilant and protect the rights of our children,” said the Governor.
He added, “children are our future and heritage. They’re the generation that will take over the development of this country from where it is. So, it is our responsibility to make sure that we mentor them for greater roles in the future,” he said.
by Hussein Abdullahi/Cathy Mbugua