During the Milimani Children’s Court Open Day held at the Milimani court on 6th May, Children from different institutions were invited to participate and also learn how the justice system can be made better to enhance the full realization of their potential in the society.
The most heated and controversial topic that has been highlighted in several broadcast and print platform in Kenya on the proposal of lowering the age of sexual consent to 16 was addressed by Lady Justice Martha Koome, ‘ A child is a child. The same way they’re not allowed to vote and use substances such as Alcohol until they are 18 years old. Until then we will fight to ensure the age of sexual consent will remains at 18 or even increase it to 21 years old . No one is going to endanger our children.’
Mbita MP and parliamentary Caucus for children in parliament hon. Millie Odhiambo says, ‘It is important for the society to understand that children are the future of this country and she will not barge into this crazy proposal of allowing older men to go around having sex with 16 year old girls who are supposed to be in school. I will demonstrate even if it means alone for the idea not to be implemented.’ She also sent out a message for those in support that they should find their age mates and leave alone the young girls to be in school.
As the late Kofi Annan said, ‘the future of our world is in the minds of our children.’ We should enhance DE-institutionalization through the right process to allow children to re-unite with their families. Children in different institutions more so those in the juvenile system have to be cared for and not feel left out.
Milimani Children’s court open day is a chance for children in the justice system to realize that it is not the end of life and that there are different parties involved to ensure that they are taken care of and their rights are protected.
Present were judges, magistrates, lawyers, and different stakeholder who were ready to take the initiative to see that children booked in the justice system, their cases are fasten and justice is found. Hon. Millie Odhiambo says, that the push for Children’s Bill has been a hustle since it has been in the office of the Attorney General for a very long time and she is not happy with the direction it was taking, tells the Executive.
The Children’s Act is aimed at protecting children who find themselves in court; in need of care and protection or those in conflict with the law. They should be given total support since those in conflict with the law are children, who are wrongly in the justice system. In Children’s Bill there’re issues of diversion and child justice that should see the light of the day. The longer it takes the more difficult it is for the legal framework to work.
This particular Day is crucial and important for children in the justice system as they subsequently give ideas of how they should be helped, and how different issues should be resolved in court. At least they can mention how they are dealing with those cases and their journeys through the court sessions.
In this forum, the children spoke about delayed hearing, prolonged investigation, beaten and mixed with adults in the same cells, street children being sexual abused or physically beaten. This has seen cases pending in court for years. They requested for a fast moving workforce, understanding that they need equal opportunities as other children especially in education, total support and counselling session to aid repair what was damaged, since the wearer of the shoe knows where it pinches the most.
At least we can heave a sigh of relief since the office of the DPP has a created a special unit that deals with children issues and now the children’s court. It will be marvelous for children issues to be replicated all over and allow them an opportunity to have their fair share in an environment that cares, support and protects them.
- By Constance Ndeleko
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