In November 2011, the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) in partnership with Defence for Children International (DCI) hosted the Global Conference on Child Justice in Africa in Kampala, Uganda. The Conference was accompanied by a Study titled “Achieving Child Justice in Africa,” which highlighted the normative framework relevant to child justice in Africa, as well as the main challenges facing the implementation of these norms and standards. One of the fundamental gaps highlighted by the 2011 Study was the prevalent use of informal and traditional justice mechanisms, and the corresponding challenges in ensuring the protection of the best interests of children in these contexts.
Seven years after the Child Justice Study and the Kampala Conference, positive developments in the advancement of children’s access to justice in various African countries have taken place, however immense challenges still remain on the path to promotion and protection of the best interests of children when involved in the justice system.
To address these challenges, ACPF and DCI, undertook a follow-up regional Study to document the current status of child justice in Africa as of 2017, providing an updated overview of the status of access to (formal/informal) justice for children on the continent, paying particular attention to developments relevant to protection in the context of informal and traditional justice systems as well as access to justice by especially vulnerable groups of children.
A further opportunity to contribute to and respond to the knowledge gaps in relation to child justice in Africa is the ongoing United Nations Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, formally requested by the United Nations General Assembly’s Child Rights Resolution in December 2014, to which DCI is a co-convener of the NGO Panel, aimed at collecting qualitative and quantitative data on children in detention, while also studying good practices that can shape more effective policies and practices and ACPF is one of the Panel’s 140-member organizations.
It is in the framework of this Regional Study that ACPF and DCI are hosting a continental conference to take place on 8-9 May 2018, with the Consultation for the Global Study taking place on 10 May 2018, in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), to deliberate on recent developments on children’s right to access to justice in Africa, including children’s deprivation of liberty, and to facilitate dialogue on the policy changes that are necessary to ensure the protection of the rights of children in the context of access to formal/informal justice.
For more information on the upcoming conference, click here