Monday, 03 October 2011 14:04

NAMIBIA: Child Protection Bill Underway


The Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare will soon present the Child Care and Protection Bill (CCPB) to parliament for final approval of the bill that will protect children.

The Ministry has been tirelessly working in the last three years on the change of legislation for the protection of the Namibian child.

The bill will replace the Children's Act, Act 33 of 1960, an outdated law inherited from South Africa.

The Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Doreen Sioka, presented the bill to the Cabinet Committee on legislation on June 25.

The bill represents the values and the will of the Namibian people, she said.

Addressing MPs and other invited guests last Friday at parliament on issues regarding children, Sioka said the CCPB will give effect to certain rights of children contained in the Namibian Constitution and international instruments to which Namibia is a party, including the convention on the rights of the child, the African Charter on the rights and welfare of the child and the United Nations protocol to prevent trafficking in persons.

The objectives of the proposed bill are to uphold the children's rights as enshrined in the Constitution as well as implement international agreements that are binding in Namibia.

It would also promote the protection of families and the interests of children.

Further, the bill would strengthen and develop community structures, which provide care and protection for children.

The bill also intends to protect children from discrimination, exploitation and other forms of harm among other objectives.

Sioka explained that the bill differentiates between the placements of children in the care of non-relatives that is called Foster Care Placement, and placement with relatives, which is called Kinship Care.

"Namibia has been waiting for the change in the outdated legislation on children for two decades now. The Children's Act of 1960 reflects socio and cultural attitudes and norms that do not represent us as Namibians," Sioka said.

The gender ministry is committed and ready to continue to work with the Ministry of Justice in developing the regulations and finally get the transparent piece of legislation out for implementation.

Speaking at the same occasion was Dr. Benyam Mezmur, the vice-chairperson and member of the African Committee of Experts on the rights and welfare of the child of the African Union. Mezmur said the protection of children's rights is not only an investment in the future, but also an imperative of the present.

"And in the context of the realisation of children's rights in Namibia, I have no doubt that this parliament is not counting its days but making the days count," he said.

Source: New Era (Windhoek, Namibia)

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