Southern Africa: SADC Conference On Children's Rights Opens in Maputo

Maputo — The chairperson of Mozambique's National Human Rights Council (CNDH), Luis Bitone, warned in Maputo on Tuesday that the evolution of Mozambican legislation on children's rights is being overtaken by events.

He was speaking at the opening of a SADC (Southern African Development Community) regional conference on the role of human rights institutions in monitoring the rights of children.

He noted that the number of reports and denunciations of violations of children's rights is tending to grow, particularly reports of sexual and domestic violence and child marriages.

"Although the legislation enshrines mechanisms for children to participate in taking important decisions that affect their lives, in practice these mechanisms are not adequate and effective, due to various factors, notably traditional practices which are damaging to children, but which are still prevalent in our society", said Bitone.

"Child labour, in both rural and urban zones, continues to stain our country", he continued. "So there are urgent challenges which must be tackled so that the undertakings made by the Mozambican state can be transformed into reality".

For his part, the general director in Mozambique of the NGO Save the Children, Chance Briggs, said that the children of the countries represented at the conference will be the main beneficiaries of the regional discussion.

"With the expected results from this meeting, the way in which each National Human Rights Council approaches children, within the general human rights thematic, will be different and much better", he said. "This includes the regular interaction of each council present here with the children themselves. This is of great benefit for the children".

In addition to the Mozambican CNDH, the three day conference is attended by human rights institutions from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Swaziland, and various other relevant public and private bodies.

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