We Are All Custodians of Children’s Rights

Aurelia David

The 20th of November was World Children’s Day.

The day is marked on the anniversary of the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which was adopted in 1989.

The UNCRC was written to make a list of all the human rights that should be accorded to children.

Internationally recognised days always serve as an opportunity to assess the progress made on important issues.

Awareness of what children’s rights entail is vital.

When it comes to the well-being and protection of children’s rights, it is important to realise that parents and caretakers need to be educated on children’s rights as much as children do.

Many children are not able to grasp information pertaining to laws and, especially in the African context, for one, many children still lack a voice.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

While a comprehensive foundation for upholding and improving children’s rights is provided by the UNCRC and other international agreements, governments, communities and individuals must collaborate in order to guarantee that every child’s rights are upheld and safeguarded.

Namibia is making strides in the right direction when it comes to the protection of children’s rights.

A good example is the children’s court which deals with cases arising under the Child Care and Protection Act 3 of 2015, Namibia’s main law on children.

The children’s advocate, situated within the Office of the Ombudsman, ensures that children’s rights are upheld.

This is done by monitoring the implementation of laws aimed at protecting children, and investigating complaints related to the violation of children’s rights. So far, 84 cases have been recorded in 2023.

Another key aspect is raising awareness about children’s rights.

The children’s advocate also forwards proposals on legal or other measures that might improve the status of children in Namibia to the relevant authorities.

Assisted by two legal officers and a social worker, the children’s advocate represents and defends children in terms of the provisions of the Child Care and Protection Act.

IT’S UP TO US

However, the progress made to date should not deter us as a country from doing more.

We should use our resources extensively to ensure that the rights of all children in Namibia are protected and that children’s rights violations are eradicated.

While it is important to have international instruments, laws and organisations dedicated to the protection of the rights of the child, the role of those closest to children should not be undervalued.

Caregivers, parents, teachers and service providers in various sectors such as health, safety and security and social services have a key and formative role to play in ensuring that children’s rights are upheld.

In the words of former US president John Kennedy: “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”

Ideally, we should all be custodians of children’s rights.

  • Aurelia David is the public relations officer in the Office of the Ombudsman. The views expressed are her own.

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