The government is in the process of developing a statute for children that will address emerging issues in the children’s sector.
The Principal Secretary for Social Protection (PS), Nelson Marwa said the government has put in place measures to ensure that the justice system is accessible and friendly to children.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Director of Children’s Services, Noah Sanganyi during the launch of the Day of the African Child Celebrations on Tuesday at the National Social Security Fund Building, Marwa said the commemoration of the day gives the country an opportunity to consolidate effort to overcome the challenges impeding the realization of children justice.
The PS said Kenya takes cognizance of the fact that access to justice is a fundamental right and a foundation for the promotion of all other human rights, a cause that made the county be at the forefront in the domestication of international and regional instruments which have been included in the constitution.
He said the Children Act 2001, entrusts various bodies and actors with the responsibility of securing children’s rights and provision of welfare and correctional services.
“The Act also outlines how children in need of care and protection and those who are in conflict with the law should be handled and sets timelines for which this should be done,” said the PS.
He said the responsibility of dispensing children justice in the country is undertaken by various institutions that work interdependently and commended organizations that have continued to support and popularize the toll-free child helpline 116 that provides children with a safe avenue for reporting child rights violations.
“Children justice like other spheres of child welfare requires collaborative effort and we recognize all the Non-Governmental agencies that have stepped in to boost the efforts of the government,” said Marwa.
The PS also commended legal practitioners who provide pro bono legal services to children in the justice system, organizations that provide rescue and rehabilitation services, as well as those that offer psychosocial support.
He said the ministry acknowledges the work of every institution in the Children Justice System especially during this time when the country is battling with the Covid-19 pandemic, including the innovative ideas the institutions have adopted to ensure they remain operational.
Kenya is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child among others.
In his remarks, the Acting Chief Executive Officer National Council of Children’s Services, Abdi Noor said the Children Bill 2020 seeks to enhance protection of children’s’ rights in the country.
He said the government has put in place interventions aimed at accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunity for all children.
The launch which was attended by the Chairperson, Board of National Council for Children Services, Dr. Joyce Ngugi, involved virtual engagement due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
By Bernadette Khaduli