A NON-GOVERNMENTAL organisation aimed at advocating for the rights of juvenile lawbreakers has started extending its awareness campaigns to schools in Lusaka.
Advocacy for Child Justice (ACJ) co-ordinator legal aid desk Mwamba Bwalya said in an interview that the idea of targeting schoolchildren is to enlighten them on the dangers of coming into conflict with the law.
The organisation held a one-day awareness programme on children`s rights at Munali Boys Secondary School in Lusaka.
“We invited different schools in Lusaka as a starting point. Before children come into conflict with the law they should know the consequences and their rights,” Mr Bwalya said.
He said the organisation has embarked on the preventive approach so that children can make informed decisions to avoid breaking the law.
The programme, which is the first of its kind, is expected to extend to other parts of the country.
Meanwhile, Libala Secondary School pupil Joseph Kangwa, 15, said in an interview that children should avoid abusing their freedom and rights.
“I have seen my peers engaging in illicit activities in the name of having fundamental rights but people should know that rights and laws are there to guide us and not to be abused,” Kangwa said.
And Kondwani Caseta who is also a grade 10 pupil at Libala Secondary School, said a number of young girls have fallen prey to vices and eventually fallen pregnant as a result of abusing their rights.
Caseta said as a result some young girls end up in early and abusive marriages.
“The right to freedom has not been properly understood, some young [people] think it allows them to do anything they so wish but at the end of the day, they find themselves in problems,” Caseta said.
She said there is need for robust sensitisation campaigns on human rights and how and when they should apply.
By Mwenya Mwape