Centre for Child Law representing University of Pretoria at Continental Conference on Access to Justice for Children in Africa
10 May 2018
The Centre for Child Law in the Faculty of Law of the University of Pretoria is currently attending and representing UP at the Continental Conference on Access to Justice for Children in Africa held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Centre is represented by the Deputy Director, Karabo Ozah and Senior Project Coordinator, Zita Hansungule. The Conference is hosted by the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) and Defence for Children International (DCI) from 8 to 10 May 2018.
The aim of the conference is to discuss and explore ways to ensure that children in Africa – especially the most vulnerable – get access to justice and are treated fairly and decently by the justice system. A press statement on the conference notes that:
“Child rights campaigners and defenders estimate that thousands of children are held in prisons across the continent at any one time, with many more deprived of their liberty in detention centres, rehabilitation units or other such situations … [G]irls, children with disabilities, children living on the streets and trafficked children are some of the most vulnerable groups of child within the justice system. They suffer discrimination and are often denied access to justice.”
The discussions and deliberations dealt with a number of issues related to access to justice for children including: legal pluralism in Africa and its impact on access to justice for children; access to justice for children in the context of armed conflict; vulnerability and access to justice for children; access to justice for children with disabilities in Africa; and technology and children’s access to justice.
A new report from ACPF was launched at the conference: “Spotlighting the invisible – Justice for Children in Africa”. The Centre’s Ms Karabo Ozah reflected on the report as a child right’s expert. Ms Ozah reflections on the findings of the report; highlighted practical realities dealt with in the report; and gave recommendations on the way forward. Ms Hansungule reflected on the litigation and advocacy work that the Centre has engaged in to ensure access for children with psychosocial disabilities, in particular children with behavioural difficulties.
At the conclusion of the Conference a call to action was adopted by participants. The call to action urged various duty bearers to make access to justice a reality for all children on the Africa continent. The duty bearers include: African Governments; AU Organs and Treaty Bodies; The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child; Civil Society Organisations; International Non-Governmental Organisations; UN Agencies; Academic Institutions; and Development and Multilateral partners.
The Centre for Child Law aims to use the report and call for action to enhance their work in protecting and promoting the rights of children, in particular access to justice for children, in South Africa and work towards a child-friendly justice system.
Fltr: Karabo Ozah and Zita Hansungule
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Continental Conference on Access to Justice for Children in Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia