Govt committed to protection of children’s rights – Minister Ziyambi

Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter

Government has enacted several laws to comply with constitutional provisions for the progressive realisation and enjoyment of children’s rights, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi has said.

Minister Ziyambi said this yesterday in Maseru, Lesotho, during the 43rd Ordinary Session of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of Children.

The meeting was held to consider reports submitted by State Parties under Article 43 (1) (b) of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

Minister Ziyambi presented Zimbabwe’s first report covering 2015 to 2018.

“During the period under review, the Government undertook a process of aligning the national laws to the Constitution for the progressive realisation and enjoyment of children’s rights. As such, various pieces of legislation that are paramount to the advancement of children’s rights have been aligned,” he said.

“Notably, the Children’s Act now ensures compliance with section 19, as read with section 81 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which grants every child the right to be protected from any form of abuse including sexual exploitation, child labour and any form of economic exploitation, maltreatment and neglect. The Act is hinged on the four core principles as enshrined in Article 4 of the Children’s Charter.

“The Marriages Act, a progressive law which outlaws child marriages in all its forms including pledging or betrothal of children.”

Other laws that were enacted include the Guardianship of Minors Act which provides for equal guardianship and custodial rights for both parents and also significantly addresses child marriages by removing the power of the guardian to consent to the marriage of a minor.

The Cybercrimes and Data Protection Act, the Minister said, criminalises online sexual exploitation and abuse. The Act further criminalises the involvement and sharing of child sexual abuse material.

“With regards to non-discrimination, every child has the right to equal treatment before the law, irrespective of age, gender, ability, nationality and culture. Furthermore, the legislation outlaws any sort of discrimination against children on the basis that they are born in or out of wedlock. Social and legal dictates clearly show that no child should be punished by virtue of not having been sired in a registered union or marriage,” Minister Ziyambi said.

He added that the Government was also reviewing the Disabled Persons Act, which prohibits the denial of access to public premises, services, and amenities by persons with disabilities including children with reduced mobility.

Government launched the National Disability Policy which directs the adoption of the principles of universal design across all sectors in ways that make it accessible for all people, especially children with reduced mobility.

“The Government continues to implement measures designed to eliminate all legal and administrative barriers in the registration of births and deaths. To that effect, the rate of birth registration has been steadily increasing over the reporting period. It is important to note that even children of refugees are registered regularly,” Minister Ziyambi said.

He said the Government had established registration offices in all the country’s 10 provinces and 63 administrative districts.

“There are also 202 sub-offices of which 58 are at all major hospitals and clinics to facilitate early birth registration. The Government is also working with religious sects in the country to encourage birth registration of their followers,” he added.

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