- Today, the 16th of June 2017, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) joins the Government of Zimbabwe, Civil Society Organizations, Stakeholders, Africa and the rest of the world in celebrating the Day of the African Child. This is an opportunity to take stock and inspire actions towards resolving the challenges being faced by African children including children in Zimbabwe. The 2017 theme for Day of the African Child is: “Accelerating Protection, Empowerment and Equal Opportunity for Children in Africa by 2030”.
- The Commission acknowledges the provisions in Section 81 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act 2013, which provide protection for children from economic and sexual exploitation, from child labour and from maltreatment, neglect or any form of abuse. The Constitution also provides for empowerment and equal opportunities for children in respect of the right to education, health care services, nutrition and shelter. Zimbabwe is signatory to International Treaties and Conventions that protect, promote and uphold the fundamental human rights of children which include the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC).
- Notwithstanding these achievements, the Commission reiterates the Concluding Observation (CRC/C/15/Add.55, para.22) by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and recommends that the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on Alignment of Laws expedite its work to ensure the urgent alignment of all national legislation with impact on the rights of the Child, to the Constitution to ensure maximum protection and development of children in Zimbabwe. The Commission also calls for Government to adopt the Draft Child Rights Policy aimed at strengthening coordination mechanisms and measures for protecting and promoting children’s rights which has been under consideration for a long time.
- ZHRC commends government efforts to end child marriages which deprive girls involved of their basic rights to health, education, development and equality. ZHRC, however, notes with grave concern, the still high prevalence rate of child marriages in some of the provinces of the country including Manicaland, Mashonaland Central and Midlands and calls upon the government and all stakeholders to accelerate awareness raising efforts to end child marriages. The Commission further recommends that the State and other stakeholders also accelerate awareness to combat the stigmatization of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse including incest, and promote knowledge of reporting channels for such violation in line with the 2016 UNCRC Concluding Observations for Zimbabwe.
- The Commission reiterates the need for equal educational opportunities for children regardless of any distinction including sex or disability and notes the need to accelerate programmes to capacitate and empower all children in Zimbabwe, in particular children with disabilities. The Commission calls on the government and development partners to improve the infrastructure at rural schools to ensure that all children benefit from the STEM initiative and the roll out of the new school curricula.
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Press Statement to Mark Commemorations for Day of the African Child, 16 June 2017