NCCW and UNICEF Sudan welcome new laws protecting children in South Kordofan State
11 November 2008 (UNICEF)
The passing of two new pieces of legislation by authorities in South Kordofan today has been applauded by the National Council for Child Welfare (NCCW) and UNICEF as a critical commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The South Kordofan Child Law and Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting Law, passed by the state government today, ensure the protection of the most vulnerable children in the state. Historically, the Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting Law criminalizes both the practice of genital mutilation and cutting, and its promotion and for the first time specifies a very clear legal definition for childhood.
The Secretary General of the National Council for Child Welfare, Ms Amira El Fadil welcomed the remarkable development of the passing of the two laws. “In a state as important as South Kordofan, which is recovering from the effects of war – safeguarding the rights of children is a progressive move. I appreciate the efforts of the State, the State Legislative Council, the State Ministry of Social Affairs and the State Council for Child Welfare for leading the way in the protection of children’s rights.”
Both at Federal and State level, the National Council for Child Welfare and UNICEF have worked in partnership to ensure that the rights of children in Sudan are further supported and promoted.
“Sudan is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as other international and national instruments that are designed to protect women and children. However, the passing of laws such as these at state level increases the potential for implementation, and this strengthens protection of children at community level,” said UNICEF Representative Ted Chaiban. “UNICEF therefore warmly welcomes this important development and congratulates the state government for its efforts on behalf of children and encourages other states to undertake similar legal reform.”
The new Child Act contains important provisions for children- children under 12 years are no longer criminally responsible; children have the right to be registered at birth; better protection provided for children victims of crime, witnesses, and offenders; recruitment of children by armed forces and groups is prohibited; clear commitment for diversion and community alternatives for punishment of child offenders of crime; increased protection for street and working children, including, de-criminalizing those living on the streets; and banning hazardous forms of child labour.The law seeks to strengthen child protection and law enforcement systems already in place in South Kordofan with a clear mandate on roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders. It also highlights the role of new Family and Child Protection Units within the police and underlines child friendly procedures amongst other mechanisms such as special courts and prosecution offices for children.
In line with the National Strategy to abandon Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting within a generation – the passing of the Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting Law clarifies that the practice is not only a health issue – but a social and legal issue that all government sectors and members of the community need to take responsibility for.
According to the Sudan Household Survey, 2006, 66.6% of women in South Kordofan have reported undergoing Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting procedures; lower than the national average of 69.4%, which in itself has dropped markedly from a 90% nationwide figure earlier recorded. However, some states in Northern Sudan have still reported that as many as 83.9% of women have undergone Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting.
Hence, there is a dire need to raise awareness throughout all States, that such practices do not have traditional nor religious support.
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