, NAIROBI, Kenya October 19 – The Global Peace Foundation-Kenya is calling for amendments to the law to put further safeguards to ensure parents take care of their children.
In a bid to enforce parental responsibility, GPF-Kenya Executive Director Daniel Juma says there is need to make it punishable by law for any parent who abdicates the role on grounds that it is a threat to national security
Speaking when he appeared before the Senate National Security Committee public hearings on the Prevention of Terrorism Amendment Bill, Juma observed that the prevalence of homeless children provided fertile grounds for their recruitment into extremism and terrorist activities.
“The other day the government made it illegal for you to lose your SIM card, because people were stealing SIM cards and using them to extort other people. I want to use that analogy, to say your child is like a SIM card; if you have a child and you lose that child, and you don’t know where your child has gone that child will most likely be recruited into Al-Shabaab or ISIS and will be a tool that will come back to bomb our students like it happened at Garissa.”
“We are saying that every parent must account for their children. You must be able to know even before you got married how many children do you have at the village; how many girlfriends did you impregnate, and are you taking care of them,” he said.
GPF- Kenya estimates that Kenya has some 300,000 homeless children, with 60,000 of them located in the capital city.
Nominated Senator Naomi Waqo is seeking an amendment to the Bill to compel all institution administrators mandated and charged with the duty of ensuring measures is put in place in their respective institutions to prevent radicalization and violent extremism.
Under the Bill, school administrators will be required to keep updated records of all their students and ensure teachers are sensitized to detect extremism.
In his submission, before the Committee, Juma further called for the establishment of safe houses or safe centres where homeless children can be taken care of until they become adults.
“We must make it compulsory by law for every Kenyan to support their parents so that instead of the government putting all this money into this Pesa ya Wazee Scheme; it can establish a proper social welfare scheme targeting the vulnerable youths. The government can also establish proper centres where the children who we cannot account for their parents can be kept and they can have free food and a place to sleep like in Europe,” the GPF -Kenya Executive Director said.
Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula cautioned that this will encourage a trend where by “delinquent parents will dump the children on the streets with the full knowledge that the State will pick them up and look after them.”
“We must have a moral fibre in our country, where anybody who sires a child carries a corresponding responsibility for that child, regardless, and the State should only come in as an intervention where there is inability or total failure.”
“Also that kind of thinking can prove to be very dangerous, because it may open the door to criminal gangs that are known to be engaged in child trafficking, will start trafficking children from conflict zones and dump them on our territory, knowing that once they are here, we will pick them up and take care of them. So whatever law we have we must insulate our national interest, our state security but above all our human and Bill of Rights,” the Bungoma Senator stated.
Wetangula cautioned that the Waqo’s Bill may face implementation challenges if passed in its current format because it puts the responsibility of execution on the county education boards which are only in charge of Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) and vocational training institutions, while primary and secondary school education falls under the national government.
“When we put a responsibility on the county education board on matters that are not devolved, then it will be very difficult for them to discharge that responsibility. If you look at the counties, you have the County TSC, County Education Director, all of them have no regard for the county government, they work completely independent of the county government,” he said in his critique of Senator Waqo’s Bill.