Judiciary calls for protection of children
09 June 2014, 09:22
Nairobi - Chief Registrar of the Judiciary, Anne Atieno Amadi, has called on the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) to establish safe shelters within the justice chain to protect children and ensure they accessed justice.
Speaking at a workshop attended by 42 magistrates and judges drawn from the Coast Region, Voi Town, she asked judicial officers to take extra care and consider children’s interests as paramount when handling their cases.
She said children were often taken back to the same homes where cruelty or defilement took place and where the risk of recurrence was high adding that the justice chain lacked structures that could protect children with disabilities, including those with mental disabilities.
She called on the Children’s Department to relocate children from unsafe homes to safe places where they could undergo healing.
“When the children are brought to court, they are ‘no one’s responsibility.’ The work of managing them while they are within court precincts is left to the older ones in the group and the volunteers,” said Mrs Amadi.
The Chief Registrar observed that there were few correctional facilities for girls than for boys in the country, making it difficult for magistrates to decide what to do with the rest of the girls who required the service.
She cited Kirigiti Correctional facility in Kiambu, which she noted could only accept a limited number of girls.
Amadi said that there was need for a provision in the law to allow for mandatory legal representation for children. She cited a provision in law where murder suspects are entitled to legal representation at the cost of the State. Amadi explained that currently, child offenders are left at the mercy of pro bono services that are offered by the Law Society of Kenya.
She called for Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms where children were involved saying that the judicial system was very adversarial.
“The court system is traumatic even for adults, how much more for children? A child coming to court is vulnerable. A child forced to testify in open court does not recover. A child remanded or defiled is stigmatized for life,” said the Chief Registrar.
– CAJ News
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