Two child rights Bills gazetted

07 Dec, 2021 - 00:12 0 Views
Two child rights Bills gazetted The Child Justice Bill will seek to establish a separate juvenile justice system that is centred on principles of restoration and rehabilitation of child juvenile offenders

The Herald

Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter

Government has gazetted the Child Justice Bill and Children’s Amendment Bill, two separate Bills that seek to enhance rights and protection of children as enshrined by the Constitution.

The Bills, which are expected to be tabled in Parliament soon, were contained in a Government Gazette published last Friday.

The Child Justice Bill seeks to establish a justice system for children in accordance with the values and principles underpinning the Constitution and the international obligations of Zimbabwe.

It is intended to establish a child justice system for children, those that are under 18 “in conflict with the law”.

This means that there will be a criminal justice system to cater for children.

Clause Three of the Bill will amend certain definitions in the Children’s Act.

They include the definition of “child” which will be amended so that a child is defined as a person under the age of 18 years.

The definition of “child in need of care” will be changed to read “child in need of care or protection or both” and will be widened to include children who are at risk of being unlawfully married, a child who is pregnant or who is sexually abused.

The definition of  “parent” will be amended so as to remove the discriminatory reference to the illegitimacy of children born out of wedlock.

Clause Five of the principal Act will be amended by changing the name of the Council from the Child Welfare Council to the Child Welfare and Protection Council.

The clause will also make provision for additional representatives from organisations of parents of children with disabilities.

Clause Six amends the principal Act so as to include a new provision which will insert an additional function of the Council to receive complaints from children so as to devise child protection measures and to promote children’s rights.

Clause Seven amends the principal Act by deleting the reference to an “infant” and substitute it with “a child under the age of 7 years”.

Clause Eight provides for the creation of an offence when any person allows or causes a child to participate in child sexual abuse material or any person participates in child grooming, while Clause Nine makes it an offence for any parent or guardian to deny access to medical treatment to a child in their care without a reasonable cause for such denial of medical treatment.

On the other hand, the Children’s Amendment Bill seeks to update the Children’s Act in line with the Constitution and modern best practices.

It includes new provisions setting out general principles relating to children, children with a disability or chronic illness and the general duty of care for a child.

The Child Welfare Council will be renamed the Child Welfare and Protection Council and provision will be made for membership of the Council to include representatives of parents of children with disabilities.

The Council will also be able to receive complaints direct from children.

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