On July 2nd, 2019, we began our morning with theme of the day being ‘Country Specific Legal Framework and Challenges in Child Protection’. Working in groups of four groups to present comparative frameworks of countries of the respective members of the groups and evaluate challenges and best practices.
Group 1, called the Northern Bear, provided a comparative analysis delivered by Mr. Maxim Murungiveni. Countries in the group consisted of Bulgaria, India, Russia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Mr. Maxim provided key points such as grey areas in Laws regarding age of majority; discrepancy in law and implementation; similarity in principles of child protection laws across countries; lack of legal aid and legal services; changes in legislative and judicial law due to media pressure and media trials and lack of universal law with fractured laws that may conflict with each other.
Group 2, called the South East Asia, included representatives from Indonesia, Cambodia, India, South Korea and Vietnam. They discussed and provided a comparative analysis of International Conventions and National Laws on child protection across the countries with interesting findings. Issues discussed include conflict of national law on age of majority of Vietnam with International Convention of Child Rights, 1989; Definitions of Child in need of care and protection as well as Child in conflict with law provided in Juvenile Justice (Care and protection) Act India, Issues of victims of child sexual exploitation being treated as criminals and put in detention centres in South Korea and issue of misuse of rape and kidnapping law by police and public to enforce caste based roles in children couples who run away to marry each other in India.
Group 3, led by Mr. Nshimirimana Jacques, with representatives of Nepal, Greece, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya provided a tabular analysis of on numerous issues. They included Constitutional provision, Child Labour Act, African Chapter, Child Rights Coalition-Asia, National Child Rights Policy and framework, Remand Homes. They discussed best practices followed in each country such as Juvenile Justice Procedures, speedier courts, special courts, use of child forums in juvenile justice, special cells and involvement of child right workers in investigation procedure. Mr. Sagar Bhandari discussed about quantum of punishment based on age consideration in Nepal.
Group 4, called the Chizamophi, included representatives of China, Zambia, Mongolia and Philippines. They discussed the major problems plaguing the child rights. Problems like fractured legislatures with inconsistent definitions and conflicting provisions; Funding allocation, Technical capacity of juvenile systems, lack of research and monitoring in the field, ignorance of poor children while rich buys the justice, ineffective practitioners and judges. They provided recommendations such as sealing juvenile records, international consensus in law and use of international conventions in courts.
Afterwards Mr. Tong delivered a speech on how through good practice and effort would lead to recognition of child rights being bolstered in countries. He provided his personal experience on how his research and effort pushed Chinese lawmakers to start thinking about child rights and protection of children. He emphasised on creation of a global effort and articles on comparative analysis of child rights and protection laws as well as practices to put a diverse perspective in front of the people and the governments to put a more concentrated and well sharpened attitude towards child protection.
Mrs. Li Ping, representative of Ford Foundation, discussed the history of ford foundation’s involvement in child rights development in china and their relations with Zhicheng.
In the Afternoon session the groups discussed openly about other major problems that plague the child rights practices across their countries. Mrs. Lopamudra Mullick from India discussed the lack of convergence between authorities; overuse of remand homes even for child victims in majority of cases instead of using alternative methods; emphasis of curative approach instead of preventative approach. Mr. Hishom Akbar discussed about public awareness issues and media manipulation causing erred judgements and miscarriage of justice for both the juvenile victim and accused. Mr. Sean Phay discussed the challenges with authorities that social workers and victim have to face where the authorities mediate the problem and take huge bribes, leaving some money for the victim.
Other problems such as lack of clear regulations for access and experience of justice system; attitudes and qualification of workers, lack of political will, inefficient structure of victim and witness protection, sustainability of innovative pilot programs and budgetary allocation were discussed.
At the end innovative ideas to tackle such problems were discussed. Ideas such as fixing budgetary allocation provided by Ms. Maria Brestnichka, Use of big data and MoUs with university by Ms. Jinhye Lee, creation of organic campaigns by Ms. Lopamudra Mullick, Right to Information by Ms Deepika Murali, mobilization of religious community by Mr. Bestone Banda, and other innovative ideas such as awareness and sensitization of NGOs in media, use of popular media to inculcate a child rights attitude, involvement of children in political process, scorecard system for government performance, long period lobbying, stakeholder forums, decentralisation of budgetary allocation, creating ownership, etc. were discussed at length.
The day ended with a firm resolve of use of international cooperation and use of comparative analysis to bolster good practices in child rights and inculcate a universal understanding of child rights unhampered by archaic social conventions and cultural practices.