Undikumbukire Project (UP) Zambia, a non-governmental organization that advocates for Children’s justice has launched a child justice help line in Kitwe through which children that come in conflict with the law can call to consult on legal advice.
And Kitwe District Commissioner, Lawrence Mwanza who graced the launch said the launched child justice helpline will help communities across the country to access legal information and education by calling the toll free line.
Mr. Mwanza said the Child Justice Help line will be a platform that will uphold the children’s rights when they have been infringed by law enforcers or other people charged with the mandate of protecting children’s rights.
“The Helpline will give children access to justice through access to information so that their cases can be dealt with expeditiously,” Mr Mwanza said.
And UP Zambia Executive Director Sara Larios said having access to a free help line will reduce the amount of confusion that parties experience when encountering the justice system.
Ms Larios also noted that the Child Justice Helpline will also serve as a platform to community members to report cases involving children that have come in conflict with the law.
“The Child Justice Help line will now allow children, families and concerned citizens all around the city and the country to access free information from a trained law graduate, assistance is available not just in English but in many languages, UP Zambia is also working on having support available to migrant children and communities in other regional languages,” she said.
She explained that encountering the justice system can be a very confusing and traumatic experience when you do not know your rights, you do not understand the legal language, laws and procedures.
“In some of the early visits I made to juvenile cells across Lusaka, Central and Copperbelt provinces, I encountered children who were desperate for legal assistance and information, some who had been in prison waiting for judgements, confirmation of sentences or even transportation for up to four years, children whose cases at some point took a wrong turn or perhaps filed into a wrong cabinet leaving a sense of abandonment, their parents overwhelmed by a system they did not understand at times give up on their children feeling clueless on how to untangle the situation in where their children were caught,” Ms Larios explained.
UP Zambia currently has a team of over 30 people who work daily to assist vulnerable children and adults’ access legal information, legal representation and social support.
Every day, the team spends time in correctional facilities, courts, police stations and in the community providing information and services to those who find themselves in the justice systems.