Statement by Justice for Children (JCT) on the arrest and imprisonment of a 16-year-old Chinhoyi girl for violating curfew regulations.
Justice for Children (JCT) has intervened in the case of a 16-year-old Chinhoyi girl who was imprisoned for violating curfew regulations.
Through making an application for free bail pending appeal, Justice for Children represented by its lawyer, Pamellah Musimwa, ensured that the child has been released into the custody of the Department of Social Welfare where she will be placed in a place of safety.
An inquiry into the life and circumstances of the child reveals that she ended up breaking curfew regulations as she could not have protection from abuse at the family level.
JCT is concerned about how children’s rights are being violated under the name of enforcing lockdown regulations by justice players.
Section 81 of the Zimbabwe constitution provides for the protection of children including adequate protections by the courts with the High Court being the upper guardian.
Further in all matters concerning children, imprisonment should be used as a last resort whilst also taking into consideration the best interests of the child.
Sentencing a juvenile to pay $15 000 fine, therefore, fails to take into cognisance both the minority and financial incapacity of a child.
Further, Section 19 of the Constitution also provides that the State must adopt reasonable policies and measures to ensure that children are protected from maltreatment, neglect or any form of abuse thus when all has failed to offer protection to a child including the family the government should come in and offer protection.
In this instance, the Courts have proved to have failed to protect the child and her interests. JCT continues to be concerned about the levels of child rights violations that children are being exposed to starting from families, communities and duty bearers.
The organization continue to reiterate that being in conflict with the law does not make one an adult but rather it’s an indication that a child is in need of care.
Further as an organization, JCT calls upon all child protection stakeholders particularly our courts to fully take cognisance and provide a child justice friendly system.
Therefore wherever one comes in contact with a child in conflict with the law it should become a duty to ensure that our actions contribute and promote to the rehabilitation and reintegration of such a child in line with the best interest of the child principle.