“The Government and people of Namibia should be congratulated for demonstrating once again the country’s commitment to ensuring that all children, regardless of their social or economic status enjoy their rights unreservedly,” said UNICEF Representative, Ms. Micaela Marques de Sousa. “We encouraged, supported and followed the development and consultations on the bill and are pleased that the child protection environment in Namibia is now strengthened with a robust legal framework.”
A Child Care and Protection Act gives a comprehensive legislative framework to effect some of the rights of children that are yet to be fully realised in Namibia. The Act conforms to the country’s regional and international agreements for children such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
Since independence in 1990, Namibia has paid commendable attention to improving the status of children, through reducing infant mortality, increasing school enrolment and ensuring that services are in place for the protection of its children.
The Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare (MGECW) has spearheaded the entire process of developing and enactment of the Child Care and Protection Bill. The Bill therefore is a comprehensive legal framework that guides not only the legal mandates to prevent and respond to neglect, abuse, exploitation, trafficking of children; the placement and monitoring of children in alternative care including inter-country adoption, and the social effects of HIV and AIDS, but also lays down the legal responsibility of professionals working with children in welfare, education, health and other sectors to respond to violence occurring in the lives of children.
Developed through broad consultations with Government Ministries, Civil Society, Religious Organisations and children, the new act sets provisions for a child advocate in the office of the Ombudsman to investigate and act on complaints about any violation of children’s rights. The act will further stimulate the establishment of a Children’s Court, places of safety where vulnerable children can be placed and assisted and it also gives children over 14 years a chance to give consent for medical treatment.
“We recognize that passing the bill is an important first step and a lot more work needs to be done to ensure that smooth implementation, awareness and adoption of the legislation follows,” said Ms. de Sousa.
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