SPEECH BY HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE DR. MUMBA MALILA, SC. AT THE LAUNCH OF THE NATIONAL JUVENILE JUSTICE STRATEGY (2022-2026)
- The Honourable Vice President of the Republic of Zambia, Mrs. W.K Mutale Nalumango
- The Judge-in-Charge of the Family and Children’s Division of the High Court
- The Honourable Minister of Community Development and Social Services, Mrs. Doreen Mwamba, Member of Parliament
- The Country Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Ms. Noala Skinner.
- The Chief Administrator of the Judiciary
- The Clerk- National Assembly
- The Permanent Secretary (Legal) – Ministry of Justice
- The Permanent Secretary- Cabinet Office, Management Division
- The Permanent Secretary- Ministry of Community Development and Social Services (MCDSS)
- The Permanent Secretary – Ministry of Education
- The Permanent Secretary – Ministry of Finance and National Planning
- The Permanent Secretary – Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development
- The Chief Registrar of the Judiciary
- The Auditor General
- The Director General- Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC)
- The Commissioner- Human Rights Commission
- Deputy Inspector General, Zambia Police Service
- Lusaka Regional Commanding Officer, Zambia Correctional Services
- Acting Deputy Director- Legal Aid Board
- The Executive Director- Zambia Law Development Commission (ZLDC)
- The Executive Director- National Legal Aid Clinic for Women and Children (NLACWC)
- The honourable Registrars of the Superior Courts
- The Country Director- Save the Children International
- The Country Director- USAID- Zambia
- The Country Coordinator, UNODC
- The Country Director, European Union
- The Country Director, GIZ Office Zambia
- The Chief State Advocate of the National Prosecution Authority
- The Chairperson of the Child Justice Forum and the Magistrates of the Child Friendly Courts
- The Heads of Civil Society Organisations Present
- The Consultant on the Development of the National Juvenile Justice Strategy
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen – GOOD MORNING
It gives me great honour to be here today to witness the launch of a document which has been birthed out of a concerted and collaborative effort of a consortium of key institutions sitting as members of the Child Justice Forum (CJF).
The Judiciary, as the institution currently chairing the Forum, can proudly attest to the hard work put in by various stakeholders in developing this Strategy and Action Plan. On behalf of the Judiciary, I commend all the institutions that have continued to collaboratively engage within the child justice sector, devising interventions and continually striving to transform the sector for the benefit of children in Zambia.
I would like to state that, for some years now, beginning around the year 2000, there have been many interventions that have been formulated aimed at transforming the juvenile justice administration in Zambia. Juvenile justice actors have merged and constantly engaged each other on how to curb the prevailing challenges in the child justice sector. Therefore, today’s event is a huge milestone as the National Juvenile Justice Strategy will give the Forum a strategic direction.
Honourable Vice President, as Chair, the Judiciary assures the Government that through this national strategy, a roadmap for juvenile justice programming in the country has been drawn; at least for the next five years. The Strategy and Action Plan have not only identified the gaps and existing challenges, but charted a course on how these challenges can be addressed. All this is in an effort to benefit children in Zambia and look out for their best interest.
I implore all the member institutions of the Child Justice Forum to continue constantly and actively participating in the reforms taking place in the child justice sector. To all our cooperating partners, it is my clarion call that you continue complimenting Government efforts in order to secure the welfare of children and promote their rights to survival and development. This can only be achieved by a specific and specialized system of child justice that caters for their needs to adequately transform, rehabilitate and re-integrate in society.
I enjoin all child justice role players to take keen interest in policy development and interventions that will drive and actualize the goal of the national strategy. It is only through collaboration that the objectives of the strategy can come to fruition.
Allow me to assure you all that the Judiciary continues its commitment towards facilitating collaboration amongst the role players. We are committed to leading the conversation around child justice sector reforms. Our institution is committed to employing alternative but yet effective measures of dealing with children that come into conflict with the law. This is in line with the National Diversion Framework launched in 2018 and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
Children must be given preferential treatment by the justice system, owing to the fact that they are prone to offend, mostly due to their immaturity. This fact has been recognised by courts around the world. The United States Supreme Court for example had this to say:
“We have observed that children ‘generally are less mature and responsible than adults,’ that they ‘often lack the experience, perspective, and judgment to recognize and avoid choices that could be detrimental to them,’ ‘that they are more vulnerable or susceptible to . . . outside pressures’ than adults…”
The emerging trend the world over, with regard to child justice, is to identify and adequately address the root cause of delinquency in order to effectively rehabilitate child offenders. Our role as an institution is to ensure speedy access to justice for all; more especially for children. Consequently, the Judiciary has put in place various interventions to expedite the processing of cases involving children who come into the judicial system.
The High Court has a Division dealing with affairs of the family and children. This, of course, emanated from the Constitutional amendments of 2016. This too has been a huge achievement as the Family and Children’s Division now, among many other matters, handles matters involving children. At Subordinate Court level, the Judiciary also has in place, specialised juvenile courts country wide.
Before I conclude my remarks, allow me to sincerely thank UNICEF for it’s unwavering partnership with the Judiciary, the Child Justice Forum and the juvenile justice sector, at large.
I wish to congratulate you all on this accomplishment towards attaining a transformed juvenile justice sector that conforms to international standards.
I THANK YOU ALL
 In J.D.B. v. North Carolina, 564 U.S. 261, 272 (2011).