Tuesday January 21 2014

We must protect children’s rights

By Martin Kiiza

It has come to our notice that issues regarding children’s rights and their responsibilities are generally mixed up or misunderstood. I therefore, would like to share the following information.

A child is a person below the age of 18 years as defined under the Children Act Cap.59 and the Constitution of Uganda (1995)

There are four categories of rights available for children under the law, and these include; Child survival rights, child development rights, child protection rights, child participation rights, and freedom of expression especially in matters affecting their lives.

Children have responsibilities that correspond with the rights, and these include; Going to school to study and excel. Be disciplined and always respect parents, elders and fellow children. Be grateful for what the parents are able to provide and participate in domestic chores at home.

Every child has the right to go to school and primary education is compulsory, a right to proper food, shelter, medical care and necessary social services, to participate in cultural life of their communities (not harmful cultures eg FGM,..)

There are different actors responsible for protecting children’s rights and these include; Guardians/ caretakers should provide children with basic needs of life like good nutrition, proper shelter, education, healthcare, love and protection.

Protect children from situations that make them vulnerable to abuse. They ought to guide children to understand their rights and responsibilities.
Community members should intervene in cases where children’s rights are being violated or are about to be violated
Support initiatives and organisations promoting children programmes in the community

Report cases of violation of children’s rights to relevant authorities like the LCs, police, probation and social welfare office, etc. Vigilantly observe that rights of children are being fulfilled and respected.

Local council authorities must; designate one of its members to be responsible for welfare of children e.g. the vice chairperson and mediate where the rights of a child/children are being abused or at risk of being abused.