ACJ continues its tour in Luapula ,to monitor Child friendly services in the judicial system. The organisation together with Plan has been Advocating for the establishment of Child friendly Courts in the District as well as the improvement of Child justice Administration.
The aim of the monitoring is to assess the Courts and Correctional facilities in the Justice system to see if they meet child friendly standards as stipulated by International treaties from the initial to the final disposition of cases.
However with the assessment held at the Principle Resident Magistrate Court and the Correctional facility at Mansa Correctional Centre, it was observed that the environment is not conducive for Child offenders as they are being mixed with Adult offenders in cells that are filthy and over-crowded. It has also been revealed that holding cells are not conducive from police level to court level and that Children delay receiving legal representation due to lack of child friendly legal aid services.
“Article 40 of the Convention on the Rights of a Child states that children who are accused of breaking the law have the right to legal help and fair treatment in a justice system that respects their rights. Governments are required to set a minimum age below which children cannot be held criminally responsible and to provide minimum guarantees for the fairness and quick resolution of judicial or alternative proceedings.”
In order to improve the services to be child friendly there is need to push for a timely legal representation that will be competent and tailored to the age of the child and advance the child’s right to a fair trail,just and participatory legal process, the need to sensitize the people on issues of child justice and court procedures and to monitor and assess how well children that come from reformatory and approved schools are integrated in the community.
This will help promote best practices in the promotion and administration of child friendly services in the justice system.