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article imageChild Rights protected in Sudan

By Moushumi Chakrabarty     Apr 10, 2009 in World
The first-ever law recognizing children’s rights in Sudan was launched today by the Sudanese government, drawing praise from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
According to www.un.org , the Child Act was kicked off by President Salva Kiir, of Southern Sudan, promising to protect the rights of children as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Any person under the age of 18 is deemed a child and the government is mandated to recognize and respect their rights.
“This legislation is a major milestone in creating a protective environment in which children can enjoy their rights to health, education and other basic services, to access information, to express their views, and to be protected from abuse, neglect, exploitation and harm,” said Peter Crowley, Director of Operations for UNICEF’s Southern Sudan program.
The Child Act states that no child should be subject to abuse, exploitation or violence and that any community member who suspects such an occurrence is bound to report it to the authorities. The law clearly prohibits recruitment of children by armed forces and groups, as well as mandates a different way of handling children 12 years and above accused of crimes. More than 250,000 children have been recruited by armed gangs and used as soldiers. A restorative system of justice for such children will allow for reconciliation and restitution, say experts.
Last month, in a Convention on the Rights of the Child, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay said, “Children are no longer regarded as the property of parents or the passive recipients of charity or goodwill, but as rights-holders”. She pointed out that despite changes in the way children were viewed, many crimes against children still go unpunished. For instance, 30 percent of all victims of Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) are children, particularly boys who mistake the mines for toys.
Ms Pillay noted: “It is also true that in times of hardship, absent specific and targeted programs to support their education, children may be forced to abandon school and join the workforce. In this situation they may become more vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking.”
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