Responses by the Delegation
MULAMBO HAIMBE, Minister of Justice of Zambia and head of the delegation, noted the hope of the Committee for the speedy adoption of the bill on the child code, confirming this would occur. Regarding the Optional Protocols, Zambia had begun the process of ratifying them. Mr. Haimbe confirmed that the defence act was under review and was in the early stages of re-enactment. Regarding the expiry of the national policy on children’s rights, there were plans currently underway for its review. A multi-sectoral approach was being taken in the eighth national plan, including on the topic of decentralisation.
Zambia had taken measures to ensure that there were budgetary provisions to address issues regarding children, the delegation said. There were several budget lines, including one for adoption and one for juvenile delinquency, among others, to ensure increased care for children in the country. In 2021, a gazette notice was issued to streamline mandates for various ministries, and the Ministry of Community Development was assigned several child-related portfolios. Regarding ratifications of all national instruments relating to the rights of the child, the Ministry of Development had the priework had been developed, which would provide procedures and practices for organizations working with children, including institutions.
The delegation noted the concern raised about the police units not been fully independent, saying that the goal was to de-link these police units. Under the office of the public protector, a desk had been created to address issues on children’s rights. The need for true independence for the Human Rights Commission was noted. This was being addressed by the new dawn government.
Zambia had been training social workers, the police and the judiciary through child justice forums since 2020. In 2021, a total of 250 social workers had been trained, which was half the number of the workforce that required training. On the involvement of civil society, the delegation said the national coordination committee had been revamped, and provisions had been made for enhanced coordination.
On questions on child labour and the high levels of lead contamination, Zambia had mobilised resources from the World Bank, which were intended to address the exposure of children to high levels of lead. The Government was working closely with partners to implement interventions aimed at addressing the problems which were the result of lead contamination. Heath-related interventions included the blood screening of children, with those found to have a high level of lead provided with the appropriate treatment. Discussions were taking place on compensating children who had been impacted by raising awareness on the negative environmental issues occurring in the country.
Dissemination materials including booklets and leaflets had been obtained, and children’s issues and rights were being discussed on television
Foster care guidelines were in place and operational, and foster care provisions were given in the act on juveniles. Some foster care cases had led to adoptions. The current law provided that children needed to remain with their mothers until the age of at least four years. However, a child could be removed from the parents if the parent had become incarcerated, and it was in the best interest of the child for them to be placed in foster care as an alternative. Placing children in facilities was the last resort; it was always the aim to place the children with relatives if possible.
There were variations in the laws relating to the definition of the child. There was a provision in the marriage act, which declared marriages void if the child was under the age of 16. The bill on the child code defined a child as any person under the age of 18, and the marriage act would be aligned with this. The Penal Code was under review and it would be aligned with this age. The delegation said it could not provide exact timelines, but assured that work was underway to address this irregularity. From a policy perspective, Zambia did not support child marriage practices, best hookup apps and efforts were being made to begin engagement with traditional leaders to combat this bad traditional practice. The political will existed to rid the country of this scourge.