Government urged to accept all recommendations to improve children’s rights

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Judith Mulenga

The National Child Rights Forum, a coalition of 18 NGOs focused on child rights says it is pleased to note that the country is making strides in the elimination of violence against children in the country and has urged government to accept all recommendations to improve children’s rights.

In a Statement, coordinator of the National Child Rights Forum Judith Mulenga said the coalition was happy that the challenges faced in the elimination of child exploitation had been brought to the attention of government during the 3rd cycle of 28th session of the Universal Periodic Review on last Monday.

“The National Child Rights Forum, a loose coalition of 18 child rights focused NGOs, is pleased to note that Zambia’s human rights imperative to eliminate the current violations of children’s rights in country such as child marriages, commercial exploitation including prostitution and child labour, inadequate protection of children in the juvenile justice system and the low levels of investment in the education sector particularly early childhood education were brought to the attention of the Zambian delegation when our country was reviewed at the 3rd cycle, 28th session of the Universal Periodic Review on Monday the 13th November 2017 in Geneva. The Zambian delegation was led by the Minister of Justice, Mr. Given Lubinda,” stated Mulenga, who is also Zambia Civic Education Association (ZCEA) executive director.

“Other child rights issues that the delegations kept referencing Zambia on during the review are the non-ratification of the 3 optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Namely the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on involvement of children in armed conflict, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure.”

Mulenga stated that the country also needs to stamp out Child trafficking.

“The need for Zambia to stamp out Child trafficking since Zambia has been identified as a source, transit and destination of human trafficking was also raised by the missions at the Human Rights Council. Delegations of missions from Canada, Botswana, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Togo and Armenia to name a few all called upon Zambia to step up with concrete solutions to end these violations of children’s rights in order to ensure to children in Zambia a safe happy childhood that would allow them to grow up into well-adjusted constructive members of society,” she said.

She added that the country can only ignore the recommendations at its own peril.

“Zambia can only ignore the need to prioritize implementation of children’s rights at the nation’s own peril because with children below the age of 18 years making up 54% of the population the much talked about demographic dividend as the bedrock of the 7th National Development Plan will remain a slogan. Recognizing that what happens in a person’s childhood determines whether the person becomes a cost or a benefit to the nation and the continued lip service to children’s rights by successive governments render Vision 2030 another mere slogan.

“Other prominent recommendations were for Zambia to abolish the death penalty, expand the Bill of Rights, assure and ensure freedoms of expression, stop selective application of the Public Order Act, decriminalize same sex relationships and decongest correctional facilities among other recommendations,” she said.

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