Failing our children, still

Namibia has still not implemented its new child protection laws passed four years ago.

07 January 2019 | Local News

As the world approaches the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Namibia is still stuck with an apartheid child law and has failed dismally to implement a new law that was passed in 2015 already.

Last year in November, on World Children's Day, Unicef launched a global petition to call on world leaders to commit to fulfilling the rights of every child and to recognise that these rights are non-negotiable.

In February last year, the minister of gender equality and child welfare, Doreen Sioka, confirmed that they were still waiting on the justice ministry to approve regulations contained in the long-awaited Child Care Protection Bill that was passed in 2015.

She could however not give feedback on the progress so far when Namibian Sun called her on Sunday and said, “My sister, I am on leave”.

In September the United Nations Children's Fund country representative Rachel Odede called for the speedy implementation of the 2015 act.

The Ombudsman Advocate John Walters has been on record for several years pleading for the implementation of the 2015 Child Care Protection Bill saying it is a shame that Namibia is still plodding on with an outdated 1960 law.

On Friday he repeated that the 2015 Child Care and Protection Act embodies every article of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

Walters emphasised that the gender and childcare ministry needs to pull up its socks and do more for the welfare of the children.

“Namibia needs to do more to keep children in school and to improve the facilities of childcare and education. Children are housed and schooled in deplorable conditions especially in the O-regions and then we wonder why we have half of the grade 10s failing. Half of the country's children cannot be stupid,” he said.

To this end, his office will observe 2019 as the Year of the Child.

“We will vigorously pursue the welfare of Namibian children. It is unacceptable that we shift the blame for the conditions our children are taught in and where they live.

This bill provides for the appointment of a children's advocate, the establishment of a National Advisory Council on Children and for the establishment of a Children's Fund, amongst many other provisions.

It also provides for the appointment and designation of social workers, social auxiliary workers, community childcare workers and probation officers, amongst others.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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