Power and Politics

Vice President Nalumango calls for extreme caution in implementation of child-right issues


Vice President Mutale Nalumango has called for extreme caution when addressing issues involving children in the country.

Nalumango noted the need to ensure that any rehabilitative measure chosen was aimed at addressing the problem and should be done in the best interest of the child.

The Vice President said this through a Ministerial Statement on the sentencing of children in conflict with the law delivered in Parliament on Wednesday in Lusaka.

She stated that the primary objective when a child was in conflict with the law was not to punish but to rehabilitate and reform them.

“This should be done while fostering their seamless integration into society as responsible citizens,” Nalumango advised.

She said the major child protection principle in the criminal justice sector was that a custodial order should only be made as a measure of last resort.

The Vice President insisted that if a child was deprived of liberty, they should be treated in a humane manner, respecting the inherent dignity of human beings and considering the specific needs of a person of that age.

“In instances where a child commits an atrocious crime, leaving the justice system with very few alternatives, the seriousness of the offence exceeds the threshold for alternative measures, and the safety of the community necessitates resorting to a custodial sentence for such a child,” she stated.

Nalumango advised that measures should be in place to prevent any form of abuse, violence, or inhumane treatment while ensuring a rehabilitative environment.

She noted that the law required that the criminal justice system remained steadfast in its commitment to justice, fairness and the welfare of children.

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“If there are no alternative measures available to suitably deal with a child in conflict with the law, a custodial order may be considered, provided adequate measures are in place to ensure the child’s rehabilitation and reformation whilst under the charge, custody and care of the state,” Nalumango said.

She highlighted that the Children’s Code Act, 2022 did not prohibit sentencing a child to a custodial term but only explicitly prohibits sentencing a child to life imprisonment under section 23(2).

The Vice President stated that the Children’s Code Act, 2022, provides under section 79(1) the methods of dealing with children in conflict with the law.

“Section 79(1)(i) of the act provides the court with the latitude to deal with the child in any manner based on the specific circumstances of the case,” Nalumango said.

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