The Advocacy for Child Justice (ACJ) has commended government for approving the Children’s Code Bill 2022 which will help enhance the children’s rights and welfare in the country.
ACJ Executive Director, Josphat Njobvu said cabinet’s decision to approve the Children’s Code Bill 2022, for publication and introduction in parliament during this sitting should be commended.
Mr. NJobvu noted that this came after cabinet held its 13th meeting on 30th of June and approved eight (8) Bills adding that this decision is also a clear sign that the government is concerned about the affairs of children and that it is determined to help them realize their aspirations.
He observed that Zambia has for a long time ranked poorly on the Child Friendliness Index by the African Child Policy Forum adding that as of 2018 Zambia was ranked at number 48 out of 52 countries.
Mr Njobvu stated that the country’s poor ranking has been as a result of the inadequate laws and policies that deliberately promote children’s welfare.
“We as ACJ are of the view that approving this bill is a step in the right direction and we are confident that when enacted into law, The Children’s Code Bill, 2022 will positively impact children by creating an enabling environment for them to realize their full potential and in turn improve Zambia’s regional and global ranking in regards to child friendliness.” Mr. Njobvu said.
He stated that among some of the many benefits that the Children’s Code Bill, 2022 brings with it are that the bill proposes provision for the grant of Legal Aid, and establishes procedures for treatment of children in conflict with the law, and of making social welfare reports in respect of the child.
Mr. Njovbu noted that the bill will also take into consideration the internationally accepted child friendly approach and processes when dealing with children either in contact or conflict with the law, by establishing diversion and alternative correctional programs, and promotes rehabilitation of child offenders through restorative justice.
He added that the bill will also harmonize the definition of who a child is and raise the age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 14 years.
Mr Njovbu further added that the Section 18(2) (a) specifically provides for the protection of a child from early marriages. Section 18(2)(b) further provides for the protection against cultural rites, and religious or traditional practices that are likely to negatively affect the child’s life, health, social welfare, dignity, and physical or psychological development.
He added that Section 18 brings out a very important aspect of this fight adding that it is very important to note that even though the most vulnerable with regard to child marriage is the girl child, the bill proposes to end child marriage for both the boy and the girl child.
Mr. Njobvu has further called on the general public to familiarize themselves with this bill and take keen interest in seeing it through the various stages and also called on the lawmakers to support the Children’s bill and enact it into law to protect children from various forms of abuse and exploitation.