By George Nyakundi
The Ministry of East African Affairs, Labour and Social Protection through the National Council of Children Services is currently conducting regional consultation on the draft Children Bill 2016. The need to have a new law resulted from the gaps experienced by the various children actors in safeguarding the rights and welfare of children in Kenya such as online child protection, alternative care and emerging child protection concerns. There was also the need to align the children’s law with the Kenya constitution 2010, and include friendly laws on child justice.
There have been several amendments that surpassed the required threshold which is ¾, hence the defunct Constitution Implementation Commission recommended a new law on children be drafted. The ministry has started the drafting process, with support from stakeholders such as National Council for Administration of Justice, government ministries and key partners in the children sector.
The regional consultation have taken place in Nairobi, Lower Eastern, Upper Easter, Central, Nyanza and currently ongoing in Western. Children in Nairobi believed it is important to protect children as a result of surrogacy and ensure they have equal opportunities with those of normal families. They also were concerned with the increasing online child abuse.
In Lower Eastern Children were concerned that they were not being included in decision making at the county and National level and recommended that the Bill should have guidelines that ensure children are involved in decision making. Children In central were concerned with the high rate of alcohol abuse and neglect and recommended that the law should increase penalties for parents who neglect.
Children in Nyanza have taken issue with the principle of providing sponsorship or social security on the basis just being bright and needy terming it discriminatory.
The children drawn from the six counties of former Nyanza province complained that the dichotomous criteria of bright and needy students used by various organizations to give sponsorship and social support to students failed to take cognizance of difficulties facing children beyond the restricted school environment.
In Western the children are saying that negative cultural practices are affecting both boys and girls and hence the need to get strategies to safeguard both girls and boys. The children stressed the need to consider equal rights in cases of defilement among minors (girl friend/ boy friend relations)
Rift Valley, Coast and North Eastern Regions will be consulted before the end of April, 2017.
The National Council of Children Services are accepting comments on the draft bill, you can access it through the labour.go.ke website and send your comments firstname.lastname@example.org with the Subject line Children Bill 2016 Comments/Reccomendations. You can also follow the conversation on twitter and facebook #ChildrenBillKE
George Nyakundi is the head of communication at State Department of Social Protection, Ministry of East African Community, labour and Social Protection. he can be reached on email@example.com
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