Zimbabwe drafts amendment bill to protect children’s rights


The lives of children are very important to humanity. The level at which child abuse and trafficking is fast increasing in the world has called for questioning. In respect to this, Zimbabwe has decided to protect the rights of children in the country.

Recently, the first draft of the Children’s Amendment Bill has been completed and will be forwarded to the Attorney-General’s Office for proper documentation, a member of the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce technical committee has said.

A four-day workshop was convened to fine-tune the first draft in Nyanga last week. Director for Constitutional Affairs in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mr Tapuwa Godzi said the first draft of the Children’s Amendment Bill was now ready and the responsible ministry was expected to instruct the AG’s Office to start working on it. He further said that the bill will do a long way to protect the children.

In addition, the workshop was funded by the Centre for Applied Legal Research as part of the organisation’s efforts to assist in the speedy alignment of the laws with the country’s Constitution stating that there is an agency for the amendment of the children’s bill.

Mr Godzi further said that the Nyanga workshop was a success:

“We were able to come up with the first draft of the Bill. It is now complete. The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare is expected to instruct the AG’s Legislative Drafting Division to start working on it.”

It was reported that the proposed principles are expected to be sent to Cabinet for approval before the crafting of the draft Bill.

“We have also managed to come up with principles for the Child Justice Bill. The Child Justice Bill provides the criminal justice system for children who are found on the wrong side of the law. The principles will also be forwarded to Cabinet for approval by the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare,” Mr Godzi said.

The child amendment bill has been stated to criminalise child marriage and it proposes a penalty of up to 15 years for those convicted of marrying children below 18 years. Although the Constitutional Court outlawed child marriages, there is no law criminalising the breach.

Also, it was made an obligation for parents to acquire birth certificates for their children but some children end up suffering identity crisis and being deprived a right to sit for public examinations. This is one of the problems that the amendment bill is set to tackle.

The amendment Bill seeks to criminalise failure to acquire birth certificates for children as a form of neglect. Parents will be legally punished for this form of child abuse. Also, sexual abuse and other religious and cultural practices that harm children will also be criminalised if the Bill sails through. The cultural abuse will be a big one if tackled.

In addition, the abolishment of the distinction and discrimination of children born out of wedlock and those born in wedlock will also be reduced into law in line with the supreme law of the country. This is also a major problem in the country as some children practically feel inferior in existence due to discrimination.

In order to further protect the rights of children, the amendment bill also seeks to amend the age of criminal responsibility from seven years to 12 years. Similarly, the principles of the Child Justice Bill propose the establishment of stand-alone children’s courts to deal with civil and criminal cases. It is believed that the children’s case will be better handled in their special courts.

Finally, the relevant ministry has initiated the process of amending the laws to criminalise certain breaches of the children’s rights. This will no doubt secure the innocent children from several abuses and also criminal cases on children will tremendously reduce in Zimbabwe.

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