Consultative Meetings attended by JCT
Justice for Children attended the consultative meetings for the Education Bill; Child Justice Bill; Marriages Bill; Persons with Disabilities Bill and the Amendment of the Criminal Law (Codification Reform Act [Chapter 9:23]on Mandatory sentencing for rape and sexual offences, with the aim of identifying gaps in child protection issues and advocating for positive reforms. The meetings were CSO led, Parliamentary led, Ministerial led and others were conducted by independent commissions. The meetings were conducted from June- September 2019 in Harare, Mutare and Bulawayo. The draft Marriages bill seek to repeal and replace the current Customary Marriages Act (Chapter 5:07) and the Marriage Act (Chapter 5:11). There will be one act of parliament governing all marriages in Zimbabwe and the proposed bill will update the law in line with the Constitution. JCT as a child rights organisation applauded the provision which essentially outlaws child marriages in Zimbabwe, in sync with the international law framework and regional instruments on the protection of children. The Child Justice bill is meant to prescribe how children who would have transgressed the law should be held accountable for their actions without infringing on their rights as children. In the Child Justice Bill consultative meeting JCT shared the overview of the current justice system and the opportunities for reform mainly using its experience over the years with the juvenile justice system and how the 2013 Constitution was a big milestone in the promotion of rights of children who would have violated the law. The Bill itself poses an opportunity for reform as children require special care when handling their matters by virtue of being vulnerable. At the Persons with Disabilities Bill JCT emphasised the need for the bill to address how children with disabilities should be handled when they are either in contact or in conflict with the law. The Education Bill seeks to address the shortcomings of the Education Act so as to improve the rights of learners and the education system in Zimbabwe. The Amendment of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23] on Mandatory Sentencing on Rape and Sexual offences consultative meeting objective was to proffer possible solutions to the scourge of rape cases. JCT called for heavier sentences to sexual perpetrators who take advantage of societies most vulnerable groups such young children. Thus JCT used these platforms to share ideas with other partners in strengthening child protection issues in the bills.