JCT’S interventions in schools are empowering children to participate and to become knowledgeable on legal issues that affect them with a view to ensure that they contribute in the fight against child rights violations. This is achieved through the Child Law Forum Project which was introduced in secondary schools in the districts of Harare, Mutasa and Bulawayo and other areas. The clubs give children an opportunity to discuss and share experiences on legal issues that affect them and to seek recourse where there is violation of their rights. Club members meet during the time allocated to club activities at their respective schools. The peer coordinators (teachers) who are the club patrons based at the schools guide the clubs.
The Clubs were influential in the constitutional reform agenda as they carried districts consultations which highlighted the problematic legal issues that were affecting children which were incorporated into Section 81 of the current Constitution. The clubs are empowering children to act on violation of children’s rights including sexual abuse which has become a common phenomenon in the communities. Some of the club Members have now graduated and are keen on building on a generation of children and young people who fight for human rights and democracy.
“Jail is not a place to live in… I will never do that again, all I want is to take care of my baby in a conducive environment. I was already picturing myself in jail but the JCT lawyer proved me wrong, I am free now” said Mary , a 16 year old who was happy to be released from Khami Prison to Sandra Jones Centre after being convicted for neglecting a child.
“I am afraid, Luba lied and said I was there yet I was not even there. What if I’m convicted for an offence I never committed” said 15 year old Chiedza in tears before the trial kicked off
“I am happy my child is free now, I was worried she was going to have a criminal record at a very young age. I was even worried as to how she was going to present her case in court because she is just a child and is very scared. The JCT Lawyer gave me hope and she represented my child. I’m glad she was found not guilty and acquitted” said Chiedza’s mother.
“I do not want to go back home, I am happy here. Thank you”, said 7 year Rufaro who was all smiles and had already made new friends at Khayelihle Children’s Home after JCT facilitated her placement in the home.
“I committed the offence because I was broke and I needed the money. My friend Ben betrayed me because he sold all the car parts and did not even give me the money. I was afraid I was going to rot in jail. I wish I could go back to school so that I can do better things than stealing. I would not want to go back home as my relationship with mum has soured and after all she can’t take me to school. I am happy JCT assisted me and recommended that I be taken to North Court for rehabilitation purposes. There I can attend school and move on with my life.” said Tinashe who had been convicted for car-jacking.