By Eunice Wambui
Children make up the large percentage of the population. In the Kenyan Constitution a child is any person below the age of 18 years.
In Part 3 under The Bill of Rights it outlines that every child has the right;
- to a name and nationality from birth
- to free and compulsory basic education
- to basic nutrition, shelter and health care
- to be protected from abuse, neglect, harmful cultural practices, all forms of violence, inhuman treatment and punishment, hazardous or exploitative labour
- to parental care and protection which includes equal responsibility of the mother and father to provide for the child whether they are married to each or not; and;
- not to be detained except as a measure of last resort and when detained to be held;
-for the shortest appropriate period of time and;
-separate from adults and in conditions that take account of the child’s sex and age.
- a child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child.
Children’s Act 2001
Its an Act of Parliament that makes provision for parental responsibility, fostering, adoption, custody, maintenance, guardianship, care and protection of children and to make provision for the administration of children’s institutions.
Part Two of the Children’s Act clearly stipulates the safeguarding for the rights and welfare of children, where it deals with;
- Realization of the rights of the child set out in this Part
- Survival and best interests of the child; where every child has the right to life; the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration in all actions concerning the children undertaken by public/private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies; all judicial and administrative institutions shall safeguard, conserve and promote the rights and welfare of the child, secure for the child such guidance and correction as necessary for the welfare of the child and public interest; in any matters of procedure affecting a child, he/she shall be given an opportunity to express his/her opinion deemed appropriate taking into account of the child’s age and degree of maturity.
- Non-discrimination on grounds of origin, gender, religion, creed, customs, language, race, social, political, economic status etc.
- Right to parental care
- Right to education
- Right to religious education
- Right to health and medical care, which is the responsibility of the parents and the government
- Protection from child labour and armed conflict; no child shall take part in hostilities or to be recruited in armed conflicts and where armed conflict occurs, respect for and protection and care shall be maintained in accordance with the law.It obliges the state and caregivers to ensure minors are shielded from dangerous environments and also stipulate that it shall be the responsibility of the government to provide protection, rehabilitation care, recovery and re-integration into normal social life for any child who may become a victim of armed conflict or natural disasters.
- Right to a name and nationality
- Disabled children have the right to be treated with dignity, to be accorded appropriate medical treatment, special care, education and training free of charge or at a reduced cost whenever possible.
- Protection from abuse i.e physical, psychological abuse, neglect, exploitation including sale, trafficking or abduction.
- Protection from harmful cultural practices and rites such as FGM, early marriages or other cultural practices likely to interfere with the child’s life, health, social welfare, dignity, physical or psychological development.
- Protection from sexual exploitation i.e in prostitution, coercion to engage in any sexual activity and exposure to obscene materials
- Protection from drugs such as hallucinogens, narcotics, alcohol, tobacco products or other drugs declared as harmful or illegal.
- A child is entitled to leisure, play and participation in cultural and artistic activities.
- No child shall be subjected to torture, cruel treatment or punishment, unlawful arrest or deprivation of freedom also no co child shall be subjected to capital punishment or to life imprisonment .
- Every child has a right to privacy subject to parental guidance.
- A child is expected to work for the cohesion of the family; respect his parents, superiors and elders at all times and assist them in case of need; serve his national community by placing his physical and intellectual abilities at its service; preserve and strengthen social and national solidarity; preserve and strengthen the positive cultural values of his community in his relations with other members of the community.
- Penalties; where any person infringes on the rights of the child, he/she shall be liable upon conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months or to a fine not exceeding Ksh 50,000 or both.