30 May 2014

Africa: When a Child Is Given the "Go to Jail" Card

In the video produced by Terre des hommes (Tdh) in Burkina Faso (http://www.tdh.ch/en/countries/burkina-faso) at the beginning of this year, young people who are in the process of returning to normal life reflect on the stages of their lives that led them to prison.

One adolescent talks about leaving home, working for a woman, the child in her care who got hurt and the ensuing punishment and the downward spiral to arrest and prison. Meeting Terre des hommes whilst in prison has given her the opportunity of a new start in life. A new start which does not mean impunity since she not only had to repair the wrong inflicted on her boss but also carry out community service as compensation to society. She now has the opportunity to undertake vocational training which will enable her to make her own choices in life.

In 2013, 119 children, like her, were finally able to take advantage of alternatives to prison (http://www.tdh.ch/en/documents/infopage-on-juvenile-justice-2013)

in Burkina Faso. Terre des hommes is actively committed to making both people and nation states understand that these alternatives do not entail impunity but are protective measures for their children. To this end, Terre des hommes and the Swiss government are organising a World Congress on Juvenile Justice which will take place in January, 2015.

Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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