NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 21 – Kenya has reiterated its commitment to safeguard children’s rights by enhancing administration of justice and speeding up determination of cases involving children.
Labor and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani gave the undertaking Wednesday when he joined national commemorations to mark World Children Day.
He launched three reports including the National Council and Administration of Justice on Children Matters which documents the status of children in the administration of justice, the gaps and challenges, achievements and successes as well as insights and recommendations.
“This will ensure that justice for children both victims and those in conflict with the law is expeditiously dealt with and in line with the best interests of the child,” said Yattani.
“The report would assist in the adjudication of justice on children cases. Children, who come into conflict with law, suffer from trauma and they never recover. The reason we are asking for the Children Bill 2019 to be enacted is because it recognizes the age of criminal responsibility is too low at eight years,” Court of Appeal Judge Martha Koome stated.
The second one report; Faith and Children rights multi-religious study concludes that religious texts share a common vision for children including the family centered values of both religious and right based approaches.
The third – Signing the Global Pledge – recommits the government of Kenya to this ratification of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC).
“The government has begun the ratification process for the optimal protocol on child sale, prostitution, pornography to strengthen protection of children in the face of new threats such as online exploitation as well as speedy enactment of the Children’s bill,” Yattani noted.
There have been historic gains overall for the world’s children since the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted 30 years ago.
However, many of the poorest children are yet to feel the impact, according to the “The Convention on the Rights of the Child at a Crossroads, a report unveiled by UNICEF.
“There have been impressive gains for children over the past three decades, as more and more are living longer, better and healthier lives. However, the odds continue to be stacked against the poorest and most vulnerable children,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said.
“Only with innovation, new technologies, political goodwill and increased resources will help translate the vision of the CRC into a reality for all children everywhere.”
In Kenya, the picture is similar, with gains recorded over the past 30 years but the poorest and most vulnerable children continue to miss out.
More children in Kenya are surviving beyond their fifth birthdays with improved health and development.
However according to the Kenyan Demographic and Health Survey 2014, a child born in one county was more than five times as likely to die before their fifth birthday (227 out of 1000) than in another county (42 out of 1000).
In education, big strides have been made since the launch of Universal free primary education in 2003.
The Basic Education Statistical Booklet 2014 however notes 1.3 million primary school aged children were still out of school, mainly from the arid and semi-arid counties and informal urban settlements.
Access to water and sanitation is another critical issue. According to the UNICEF and WHO report “Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2017”, 59pc of the population has access to a basic drinking water service, but just 29 pc has access to a basic sanitation service. This puts children at risk of waterborne diseases.
“This is a critical point in time for the CRC, which stands in between its past successes and its future promise,” UNICEF representative in Kenya Maniza Zaman said.
“Children are organizing themselves, raising issues impacting their lives, communities and the future, and they are starting to put solutions on the table. It is time for the rest of us to listen to children and act boldly in support of their rights.”
530 children who attended a convention on children’s rights at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) led by the Children Ambassador Moses Kibet called upon the government to fully implement Article 53 of the Constitution (2010) on children’s rights.
“To our president, we urge you to take into consideration the wellbeing of the children in decision making. Also commit more resources to the care and protection of the children as we make up 54pc of the total population,” Kibet stated.
The children also took part in the [email protected] writing contest where they were tasked to state what children’s rights meant to them.
Hope Asumbo,14, from Nairobi was announced the winner with an inspiring piece about the lack of safe places for children to play.
“I visited Dandora, an informal settlement on the edge of Nairobi’s dump site, where children play surrounded by rubbish. My piece calls for safe spaces for these other children,” a delighted Hope noted.
“At the national level, the forthcoming Children’s Bill is another important instrument to protect children in Kenya. Once enacted, this will ensure stringer protection of children from all forms of abuse and violence,” emphasized Zaman.
The CRC convention is the only human rights treaty with the highest number of ratifications in history.
Kenya became a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on July 30, 1990 and was the twentieth member to ratify the instrument giving effect to the convention.
This was a major milestone in the promotion and protection of children’s rights and welfare in Kenya and a testimony to a commitment to upholding the rights and dignity of children.