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Child Bill to provide for Child Justice Court: Govt

Local News
Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi

GOVERNMENT says the Child Justice Bill, currently at the Second Reading Stage in the National Assembly, will ensure that children who commit crimes are not treated as adult criminals by the justice system.

The Child Justice Bill seeks to establish a criminal justice system for child law breakers.

Speaking in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the Bill will provide for diversion, which will keep children away from the formal justice system.

 “The Bill seeks to establish a child justice system for children in conflict with the law, not condoning criminal activities by children. It is important to understand the root causes that bring children into conflict with the law.”

Ziyambi said lack of child justice systems means that children who come into conflict with the law are treated as adult criminals in a justice system that denies them their basic human rights, which include the right to education, development, appropriate care and prioritisation of their best interests.

“The Bill seeks to respond to the deficiencies that are in our justice system when it comes to children in conflict with the law and also it gives effect to the provision of the Convention on Rights of a Child and our Constitution.

“The Bill shall provide for the diversion, which keeps children away from the formal justice system, which is a way of considering the best interest of the child while also keeping in mind their mental capacity to have criminal intent,” Ziyambi said.

“The child justice system implemented through the Child Justice Bill will allow for them to be tried and sentenced in a Child Justice Court. The Bill also seeks to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility from seven years to 12 years and set out the manner in which these children who are suspected of having committed an offence are treated.”

Ziyambi said children below the age of 12 should not be treated in the same way as those that are above 12 years in line with the 2007 Committee on the Rights of the Child regulations regarding the minimum age of criminal responsibility.

“This Bill speaks to the protection of human dignity of any alleged child offender and highlight how they are to be treated in a manner that is dignified from the first contact with the police during free trial, detention and at any stage of justice process,” he added.

The Bill also provides for monitoring of the child justice system through establishment of child justice committees at national, provincial and district levels to ensure that those interests are protected.

“Child Justice Courts, established in terms of the Child Justice Bill, are a must and an added sign of progression within our justice system. They would be solely dedicated to trying children accused of committing crimes,” he added.

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