31 January 2013

South Africa: NCOP Invests in South African Children

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NCOP chairperson, Mr Mninwa Mahlangu, receives the report from UNICEF's representative in South Africa, Ms Aida Girma.

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) has launched a report, "Investing in Children", which focuses on the rights of children in South Africa.

"We cannot move forward, with a measure of success as a nation, if we forget that the future of our country lies in our children," said NCOP chairperson, Mr Mninwa Mahlangu, at the launch of the report last night.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) partnered with the NCOP on the project. The report is the result of a two-day children's rights seminar held by the NCOP in June last year.

"During that seminar, we highlighted the fact that children are the most vulnerable in many societies," Mr Mahlangu said. "This is despite the fact that, in our case, the Constitution guarantees them the right to family or parental care, or to appropriate alternative care when removed from the family environment."

The seminar noted that children still face challenges such as poverty, lack of access to early childhood development, lack of recreational facilities, abuse and violence. The report contains a number of recommendations made by the NCOP to address the challenges.

One recommendation is that Parliament reviews the provisions of Section 8 of the Child Justice Act to amend the age of criminal capacity to ensure that SA complies with substantive provisions in relation to its international obligations and standards.

Other recommendations include:

Prioritising the strengthening of the primary health care system

Parliament plays a critical role in the oversight of the implementation of the Child Justice Act, the Children's Act and other related laws

Parliament ensures the country reports in time and accurately on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and other international treaties which the country ratified.

"We implore the Members who serve in the relevant structures, especially the Select Committees on Women, Children and People with Disabilities; Social Services; Education and Recreation, to ensure that we follow up on the recommendations. We owe it to our children to achieve targets we would have set ourselves for this year in this regard," said Mr Mahlangu.

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