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Society should not normalize abuse of children – DCJ Mwilu

The Judiciary > Editor News pick  > Society should not normalize abuse of children – DCJ Mwilu

Society should not normalize abuse of children – DCJ Mwilu

Society should not normalize abuse of children – DCJ Mwilu. Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu has called on governance and rule of law institutions, individuals, and the society at large to ensure and guarantee the safety and welfare of all children.

Speaking during the launch of the Children’s Service month, the DCJ noted that data from the Judiciary paints a grim picture of an increasing number of cases involving defilement and those of children in need of care and protection.

“All that I ask is that we do not normalise abuse of our children. We must practice and show adabu and abandon tabia mbaya where children are concerned. It is as simple as that,” said DCJ Mwilu.

The DCJ further observed that the constitutional and statutory timelines regarding the duration of cases involving children in conflict with the law are not being met, terming it a travesty when even one child remains within the justice system beyond the prescribed period.

“it is an inexcusable tragedy that must be deliberately addressed. These delays are caused by all stakeholders and we must all take individual and corporate responsibility for this state of affairs,” she emphasized.

This years’ service month which is being held under the theme: ‘A Child-Centered Justice System’ will focus on the decongestion of holding institutions and reduction of backlog of cases by courts through priority hearing and determination of children cases but also raise awareness on procedures and processes involving children matters amongst the general public.

Accessibility to justice in children’s matters is also enhanced through targeted collaborative initiatives amongst justice actors.

DCJ Mwilu commended all the actors in the child justice space for their commitment to the welfare, protection and improvement of the lives and futures of children.

She stressed that the child-centered justice approach under the Social Transformation through Access to Justice (STAJ), coupled with the strengthened legislative framework under the Children Act 2022, provide the necessary policy and regulatory framework from which significant gains can be made in protecting children.

“The policy and regulatory framework for a child centered justice system exists; the onus is now upon us as institutional actors and, most importantly, as a society, to deliberate actions towards breathing life into the system. There is only so much laws and policies can contribute; without political will, culture change and concerted, multi-disciplinary and collaborative action, there will be no progress,” she said.

She urged parents to be at the forefront of instilling discipline and values in children. “I have previously appealed to our communities and my fellow parents to appreciate that the Judiciary and the criminal justice system cannot and should not take on your role of disciplining your children. Children who are truant need direction, guidance, care and counselling from their parents, families and communities, they are not to be brought into the justice system for ‘discipline’.

She reiterated that the current societal crisis, particularly defilement and the abuse and neglect of children, is predicated on a severe breach of trust and responsibility by adults in positions of authority and responsibility.

She advocated for proactiveness to confront challenges and do more to prevent the abhorrent occurrences and protect children, instead of addressing matters after incidents occur leaving children irreparably harmed and scarred.

“There is need for collaboration and coordination between the Department for Child Services, the National Police Service, the Kenya Prisons Service, the Law Society of Kenya, the Judiciary, Probation and Aftercare Service, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and all justice system actors to align our existing laws and policies with the Children Act and the child centered justice approach,” she stressed.

The Chairperson of the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) Committee on Children Matters Justice Teresia Matheka said the service month is an opportunity for the Judiciary, the NCAJ agencies and partners through the CUCs and the CCUCs to advocate, promote, protect, and celebrate children’s rights in Kenya.

Justice Matheka added that the launch and service month also plays a pivotal role in raising awareness about children’s rights, assessing the situation of children in Kenya, identify existing gaps in the administration of justice for children in Kenya

“Children come into contact with the justice system in many different ways. This can be for family matters such as divorce or adoption, in administrative justice for nationality or immigration issues or in criminal justice as victims, witnesses or perpetrators of crimes. When faced with the justice system, children are thrown into an intimidating adult world which they cannot understand. Adapting justice to their needs is therefore necessary,” Justice Matheka divulged.

Speaking at the event, law Society of Kenya Vice President Faith Odhiambo said National Children Service Month is important as focus turns to a child friendly justice system.

On his part, the President of the Kenya Children Assembly Sam Smith said: “This Children Service Month is crucial for children because we are considered as the first priority. I thank the Judicial system for promoting children’s rights in Kenya.”

 

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