The African Child Information Hub


8.May.18 - 10.May.18
United Nations Conference Centre : Ethiopia - Addis Ababa




Children come into contact with the justice system in many ways, including civil, criminal, and administrative proceedings, and also in different capacities; as victims, alleged offenders, witnesses, or otherwise seeking the intervention of the law. Furthermore, it is recognized that justice systems in Africa are predominantly adult-oriented and therefore seldom cater to the needs of children. Where special rules designed particularly for children exist, with corresponding legal obligations for States, adherence thereto is limited. Indeed, despite the general acceptance of the need for child-friendly justice interventions, children’s access to justice in Africa is largely compromised. Many issues hinder the effective implementation of child justice standards in most African countries. Such issues include a knowledge gap due to the dearth of comprehensive studies on child justice in Africa, existing gaps in the legal and policy and implementation frameworks on child justice, child unfriendliness amongst institutions and mechanisms dealing with children in the context of access to justice, and inadequate support for especially vulnerable groups of children. The limited recognition, appreciation, and or underdevelopment of indigenous and other informal justice mechanisms, as well as limited awareness about child justice are also to be noted.

In November 2011, the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) in partnership with Defence for Children International (DCI) hosted the Global Conference on Child Justice in Africa in Kampala, Uganda.  The Conference was accompanied by a Study titled “Achieving Child Justice in Africa,” which highlighted the normative framework relevant to child justice in Africa, as well as the main challenges facing the implementation of these norms and standards. The findings of the Study as well as papers presented by various practitioners of child rights from different countries across Africa at the Conference, noted key gaps in the child justice systems in various African countries including: the absence of dedicated child justice structures in a majority of the countries, as well as systemic deficiencies in the structures meant to ensure that child rights are effectively protected. Furthermore, while African countries had ratified various legal instruments at the international and regional levels, these norms and standards were hardly translated into domestic law; with limited knowledge and technical and resource capacities of the key stakeholders responsible for the implementation.

One of the fundamental gaps highlighted by the 2011 Study was the prevalent use of informal and traditional justice mechanisms, and the corresponding challenges in ensuring the protection of the best interests of children in these contexts. It was also acknowledged that the justice systems and structures were often not inclusive enough, making it harder for especially vulnerable groups of children (such as children with disabilities or children deprived of a family environment) to access justice.

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United Nations Conference Centre : Ethiopia   -   WEBSITE
Addis Ababa

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