For immediate release 14th July 2023 Lusaka
We, the Joining Forces Alliance (JFA), are deeply appalled and concerned about the recent incident involving an 8-year-old boy who was unjustly held in a cold police cell overnight and denied access to food. This incident is a clear violation of the rights and well-being of a child, highlighting a grave failure in the system that is meant to protect and care for children.
According to the newly enacted Children’s Code Act. 12 of 2022, Section 23: A person shall not torture a child or treat them in a cruel manner. A person shall not arrest a child unlawfully and deny them their freedom therefore, children aged 8 cannot be detained for any criminal offense as they are not criminally liable. The fact that this child was subjected to such treatment is not only unjust but also demonstrates a lack of understanding and adherence to legal principles by those responsible for upholding the law.
We commend the swift action taken by the Zambia Police, as issued by Spokesperson Rae Hamoonga, in releasing the child unconditionally and ordering an investigation into the conduct of the officers involved. However, this incident raises broader concerns about the treatment of children within the criminal justice system and the urgent need for government intervention and reforms.
Children below 18, especially those as young as 8 years old, require special protection and care in accordance with national and international laws and conventions. The incident at hand not only violates these legal obligations but also disregards the principles of compassion, empathy, and respect for human dignity.
We, therefore, call upon the government to take immediate and decisive action to address this issue and prevent such incidents from happening in the future. Specifically, we demand the following actions:
- Thorough Investigation: Ensure a prompt, transparent, and independent investigation into thecircumstances that led to the detention and mistreatment of the 8-year-old boy. Hold allresponsible parties accountable for their actions.
- Child Safeguarding and Protection Policies: Develop and implement comprehensive childsafeguarding and protection policies within the police force to prevent the unlawful detentionof children and to ensure that their rights and welfare are upheld at all times.
- Training and Sensitization: Provide specialized training to law enforcement officers on childrights, child psychology, and appropriate procedures when dealing with children. This trainingshould emphasize the principles of non-discrimination, proportionality, and the best interests ofthe child.
- Inter-agency Collaboration: Foster collaboration between law enforcement agencies, child protection agencies, and relevant stakeholders to establish clear protocols for handling cases involving children. This collaboration should prioritize the swift and appropriate diversion of children from the criminal justice system to child-centered support services.
- Public Awareness Campaigns: Launch public awareness campaigns to educate the general public about the rights of children and the legal provisions that safeguard them. Foster a culture of respect, compassion, and understanding towards children, challenging any societal norms that perpetuate violence or neglect against them.
The Joining Forces Alliance will not tolerate such violations of basic human rights, particularly when it involves our most vulnerable members, children. It is the duty of the government to protect and nurture children, ensuring their physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.
We further caution the general public and influential people to refrain from circulating the images of the boy or making his identity known on social media. Making the identity of the child known is against the law and also contributes to putting the child at risk of further violations.
We demand immediate action to rectify this grave injustice and to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
For more information, please contact:
- Kambani Phiri – Email: Kambani_Phiri@wvi.org or Call: + +260 970 937954
- Mulapwa Mukopole – Email: Mulapwa. firstname.lastname@example.org or Call: +260 770837054
- Priscilla Chama – Email: email@example.com or mobile 260 977450009
- Petronella Chindumba – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call:+260967892901
- Eric Malyangu – Email: Eric.Malyangu@plan-international.org or Call: +260977425015
Notes to the Editor:
In 2017, the six largest child-focused agencies: ChildFund International, Plan International, Save the Children
International, SOS Children's Villages, Terre des Hommes International Federation, and World Vision
International joined forces. We aim to use our collective power to accelerate change to secure children their rights
and end violence against them. We will pilot and scale innovative and effective approaches worldwide and be driven
by the voices and needs of children.