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Child Justice Bill: A step towards rehabilitation of child offenders

Child Justice Bill: A step towards rehabilitation of child offenders

By Gracious Nyathi

Stakeholders have described the Child Justice Bill as a step in the right direction toward the rehabilitation of child offenders.

Currently, child offenders are treated in an exact manner as adult offenders which has reportedly affected their rehabilitation.

However, the Bill is trying to put an end to that as it seeks to establish a separate juvenile system that is centred on principles of restoration and rehabilitation.

The Child Justice Bill was gazetted around December 2021.

Child Rights programs officer Marvelous Magume said they have received the Bill with happiness as it is correcting the anomalies that existed.

‘’Child rights defenders and the citizens at large have accepted the Bill with happiness…. children have been through systems that do not ensure their rights to a justice system are upheld’’

Currently, a child as young as eight can face criminal charges, a prison sentence in which they are placed with adults without consideration of further harm and abuse.

The minimum age of criminal responsibility is to be increased to 12, and vulnerability and disability will be put into consideration.

According to Mashudu Nguluvhe ‘’the Bill is a step in the right direction, it will do away with child oppression and push for reasonable leniency for child offenders.’’

Safe Haven programs manager, Babongile Mudawu said the Bill was long overdue.

‘’The bill is a very much needed initiative, as someone who deals with troubled children, I have come to learn that there are factors that prompt unruly behaviour, at times they act on impulse, but they are still vulnerable beings and need to be protected,’’ Mudawu said.

A parent of a juvenile that was once jailed Merjury Mpofu said the Bill will ensure the safety of children who will be behind bars.

We appreciate such changes as a nation, as a parent whose child has been jailed before, I am in support of this. Lack of protection of our children in the justice system gives us psychological pressure…at least if I know my child is safe in prison I can sleep at night,’’ she said. Under the Child Justice Bill, children will be tried in a separate juvenile court in contrast with the current proceedings.

Child Justice Bill: A step towards rehabilitation of child offenders

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