Regional Frameworks for Safeguarding Children: The Role of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
2. Child Safeguarding
- Policy: the member organisations are encouraged to develop a policy that describes how it is committed to preventing, and responding appropriately to, harm to children;
- People: the member organisations are expected to place clear responsibilities and expectations on their staff and associates (including volunteers) and to support them by holding training and capacity building to understand and act in line with the child protection policies; futhermore, organisations are required to implement “child sensitive” recruitment processes for both staff and volunteers;
- Procedures: the member organisations must strive to create a child-safe environment through implementing child safeguarding procedures that are applied across the organisation; these include steps to be taken when an incident of abuse or the risk of abuse is reported;
- Accountability: the member organisations should monitor and review their safeguarding measures, thereby also ensuring that infringements are not met with impunity .
3. The Charter Mechanisms
3.1. Substantive Provisions
3.2. The Mandate of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC)
- The Committee may receive a communication from any person, group or nongovernmental organisation recognised by the AU, by a member state, or the UN relating to any matter covered by this Charter;
- Every communication to the Committee shall contain the name and address of the author and shall be treated in confidence.
4. Subsidiary Mechanisms: The Reporting Guidelines; Dialogue with State Parties and Award of Observer Status
4.1. Guidelines for State Parties
- Legislative, administrative, social and educational measures taken to protect children from all forms of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment. In particular, the State Party should indicate whether it has outlawed corporal punishment in all settings; and
- Whether it has established special monitoring units to provide necessary support for children and for those who have the care of the child (, para. 19(a)(f)).
- The nature, type and prevalence of harmful social and cultural practices within its jurisdiction;
- Measures taken to discourage and eliminate harmful social and cultural practices;
- Measures taken to rescue and rehabilitate children who have been subjected to or affected by harmful social and harmful practices;
- Where applicable, measures taken to specifically protect children with albinism from violence;
- Whether child marriage and the betrothal of girls and boys are prohibited under its laws.
4.2. Dialogue with State Parties
4.3. Observer Status
5. The Committee’s Interface with NGOs
6. Proposals for Improving the Response to Safeguarding in Regional Context and the Role of the ACERWC
The following must always be clear: (a) who has responsibility for the child and family from reporting and referral all the way through to follow-up; (b) the aims of any course of action taken—which must be fully discussed with the child and other relevant stakeholders; (c) the details, deadlines for implementation and proposed duration of any interventions; and (d) mechanisms and dates for the review, monitoring and evaluation of actions. Continuity between stages of intervention is essential and this may best be achieved through a case management process.
7. Limits and Contributions of the Safeguarding Endeavour
African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
Convention on the Rights of the Child
International Non-Governmental Organisations
Conflicts of Interest
References and Notes
- See for further information: “Keeping Children Safe.” Available online: http://www.keepingchildrensafe.org.uk/faq (accessed on 28 August 2014). and sources cited there.
- See for instance, Centre for Applied Legal Studies, University of the Witwatersrand School of Law, and Cornell Law School’s Avon Global Center for Women and Justice and International Human Rights Clinic. Sexual Violence by Educators in South Africa’s Schools: Gaps in Accountability. Johannesburg: Centre for Applied Legal Studies, 2014. [Google Scholar] Despite a prohibition in law on corporal punishment by educators having been on the statute book in South Africa since 1996, studies estimated that 2 million children were subjected to corporal punishment in schools in 2012.
- Examples from a presentation by the Richard Powell, International head of Child Safeguarding for Save the Children International. “Progress and Challenges of Child Safeguarding in the Aid and Development Sector.” In Paper presented at the Child Safeguarding Conference, Cape Town, South Africa, 2–5 September 2014.
- Keeping Children Safe. “Child Safeguarding standards and how to implement them.” 2014. Available online: http://www.keepingchildrensafe.org.uk/resources/child-safeguarding-standards-and-how-implement-them (accessed on 28 August 2014).
- See in general the website of the ACERWC. Available online: http://www.acerwc.org (accessed on 10 September 2014).
- The text of article 19 of the CRC reads that the protection applies against parents, legal guardians and other having the care of the child. Some words appeared to have been omitted from this phrase in Article 16 of the Charter.
- “UN Secretary General’s Special Representative.” Available online: http://www.srsg.violenceagainstchildren.com (accessed on 10 September 2014). and various thematic reports available there
- Convention on the Rights of the Child. “The rights of the child to freedom from all forms of violence.” Available online: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/docs/CRC.C.GC.13_en.pdf (accessed on 24 November 2014).
- “Mental violence”, as referred to in the Convention, is often described as psychological maltreatment, mental abuse, verbal abuse and emotional abuse or neglect and this can include: (a) All forms of persistent harmful interactions with the child, for example, conveying to children that they are worthless, unloved, unwanted, endangered or only of value in meeting another’s needs; (b) Scaring, terrorizing and threatening; exploiting and corrupting; spurning and rejecting; isolating, ignoring and favouritism; (c) Denying emotional responsiveness; neglecting mental health, medical and educational needs; (d) Insults, name-calling, humiliation, belittling, ridiculing and hurting a child’s feelings; (e) Exposure to domestic violence; (f) Placement in solitary confinement, isolation or humiliating or degrading conditions of detention; and (g) Psychological bullying and hazing by adults or other children, including via information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as mobile phones and the Internet (known as “cyberbullying”).
- This defines “physical violence includes: (a) All corporal punishment and all other forms of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment…”
- See Article 22(2) and 22(3). African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC). “African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.” Available online: http://acerwc.org/the-african-charter-on-the-rights-and-welfare-of-the-child-acrwc/acrwc-en/ (accessed on 24 November 2014).
- See for instance, Frances Shehan. Advancing Children’s Rights: A Guide for Civil Society Organisations on How to Engage with the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. London: Plan International and Save the Children, 2011. [Google Scholar]
- Amanda Lloyd. “The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.” In Children’s Rights in Africa: A Legal Perspective. Edited by Julia Sloth-Nielsen. Dartmouth: Ashgate, 2008, pp. 33–53. [Google Scholar]
- A summary of these Guidelines will be available on the website of the Committee. The Guidelines were approved at the Committee meeting of October 2014.
- “This is the so-called Nubian Children decision (against the Government of Kenya).” Available online: http://www.acerwc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/002-09-IHRDA-OSJI-Nubian-children-v-Kenya-Eng (accessed on 10 September 2014).
- See Julia Sloth-Nielsen. “Chapter 15: Children’s rights in litigation before the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.” In Litigating the Rights of the Child. Edited by Ton Liefaard and Jaap Doek. Dordrecht: Springer Publishers, 2014. [Google Scholar]
- These were adopted at the 23nd Ordinary Session of the Committee in April 2014.
- African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Guidelines on the Form and Content of Periodic State Party Reports. Addis Ababa: ACERWC, 2015. [Google Scholar], forthcoming
- Government of the Republic of South Africa. “Section 123 of the Children’s Act. ” Available online: http://www.justice.gov.za/legislation/acts/2005-038%20childrensact.pdf (accessed 24 November 2014).
- These submissions were made at various workshops convened by the National Department of Social Development with civil society organisations during 2011 and 2012 to debate amendments to the Children’s Act. The proceedings were captured and incorporated in an as yet unpublished report (copy on file with the author).
- “Civil Society Forum.” Available online: http://www.csoforum.info (accessed on 10 September 2014).
- For a different use of the term “safeguarding” to theorize emerging approaches to child abuse and neglect, see Nigel Parton. Safeguarding Childhood: Early Intervention and Surveillance in a Late Modern Society. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2006. [Google Scholar]
© 2014 by the author; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Sloth-Nielsen, J. Regional Frameworks for Safeguarding Children: The Role of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Soc. Sci. 2014, 3, 948-961. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci3040948
Sloth-Nielsen J. Regional Frameworks for Safeguarding Children: The Role of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Social Sciences. 2014; 3(4):948-961. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci3040948Chicago/Turabian Style
Sloth-Nielsen, Julia. 2014. "Regional Frameworks for Safeguarding Children: The Role of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child" Social Sciences 3, no. 4: 948-961. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci3040948