Legal Resources Foundation Statement on Day of the African Child

Zimbabwe- 16 June 2022: The Legal Resources Foundation joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Day of the African Child under the theme Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy and Practice since 2013. The day presents an opportunity for different actors to reflect and accelerate investments towards achieving a sustainable world where children are safe and protected. LRF commends the Zimbabwean Government’s efforts to eliminate harmful practices affecting children through its adoption of regional and international instruments such as the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Despite the presence of progressive legislative provisions, harmful traditional and religious practices continue to negatively impact on the development of children in Zimbabwe. Regrettably, the Covid 19 pandemic also contributed towards the devastating upsurge of violations which manifested in the form of child marriages, child labour, school drop- outs and many more. As an organization that promotes human rights and access to justice for the marginalized, LRF is perturbed by the significant number of children who cannot prove their age because of the lack of identity documents such as birth certificates and national identity cards.

The Constitution of Zimbabwe and the African Charter on the Welfare and Rights of the Child expressly stipulate that every child has a right to an identity. According to a World Bank 2018 report on the global Identification challenge, an estimated one billion people face challenges in proving their identity and 47% of these are below the age of 18. The lack of identification documents poses a number of challenges for children especially the loss of opportunities. In circumstances where a child falls victim to child marriage or is in conflict with the law, it is extremely difficult to prove their age when they do not have identity documents.

It is therefore the Zimbabwean Government’s duty to create a conducive environment for children to thrive and enjoy their rights.

LRF calls on the Zimbabwean Government to;
• Expedite the enforcement of laws that criminalize child marriages
• Invest in promoting access to education for children in child marriage hotspots
• Intensify awareness raising on the negative impact of harmful practices
• Increase nationwide mobile registration of identity documents

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