The Herald (Harare)

7 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Makarau Applauds Govt for Defending Children's Rights

JUDICIAL Services Commission secretary Justice Rita Makarau has applauded the Government for defending the rights of children and women.

Speaking at the launch of the Multi-Sectoral Protocol on the Management of Sexual Abuse and Violence in Harare yesterday, Justice Makarau said the Government had incorporated into domestic law several international instruments and standards on the rights of children and women.

"It is my view that Zimbabwe must be applauded for being fairly sensitive to the rights of women and children.

"I say this because many of the international instruments and standards on the rights of children and women have been incorporated into our domestic law and now form part of the body of our laws," she said.

The protocol was adopted by various Government ministries and other stakeholders who have committed themselves to collectively fight to achieve complete eradication of violence and sexual abuse.

JSC co-ordinated the drafting of the document.

Representatives from the ministries of Media, Information and Publicity; Education, Sport, Arts and Culture; Labour and Social Services; Health and Child Welfare; Women's Affairs; Justice and Legal Affairs

and Local Government, Rural and Urban Development signed the document.

The police Victim Friendly Unit, Attorney General's Office, Law Society of Zimbabwe, National Aids Council also authorised their representatives to sign the document.

UNICEF deputy country representative Mr Marc Rubin said the idea was a noble one that is set to go a long way in eliminating abuse and violence against children and women.

Mr Marc said the protocol would offer guidance on how abuse and violence survivors could be assisted.

Each stakeholder, according to the protocol, has a role to play in the fight against sexual abuse and violence.

Justice Makarau said JSC pledged to ensure that magistrates complete hearing cases related to sexual abuse and violence within three days.

"I have promised on behalf of the Chief Magistrate that all trials of sexual nature shall, once commenced, be disposed of in three days.

"This assumes that the police would have completed the docket within seven days, that the probation officer's report or the social welfare report will be prepared within seven days," said Justice Makarau.

The protocol is anchored on 11 guiding principles, which include age, gender sensitivity, dignity, non-discrimination on any unjustified basis and participation.

The document also seeks to protect survivors of violence and sexual abuse. Zimbabwe has 17 victim friendly courts that are complemented by seven specialised child survivor clinics and a national network of victim friendly in almost every police station.

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