THE CHILD JUSTICE FORUM
The Child Justice Forum (CJF) is an open ended consortium of key institutions in the child justice system in Zambia. The CJF provides a platform for multi-sectoral representation of institutions to convene on a regular basis and share information on prevailing challenges in the child justice sector in order to devise interventions. It primarily facilitates for a coordinated, collaborative and cooperative approach of transforming the criminal justice system for children.
Background to establishment of the Forum
The CJF was established in May 2001 following a situational analysis undertaken in July 2000, by the Ministry of Home Affairs in collaboration with UNICEF, Danish and Swedish Embassies and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
The overall purpose of the study was to describe the prevailing situation relating to child justice in Zambia and to analyse how children experienced the criminal justice system when they came into conflict with the law. The analysis highlighted among other things, that an improvement in child justice administration in Zambia could only be achieved through inter-sectoral cooperation by the relevant actors at delivery level, hence the establishment of the CJF.
Findings of the study included:
- Many children were arrested for petty offences that could have been dealt with outside the criminal justice system,
- Few children appeared with legal representation and little effort was made to obtain such,
- Pre-trial detentions were common, with an average period being three months,
- Children coming in conflict with the law were still being detained with adults in prisons instead of places of safety, thus exposing them to a lot of vices and dangers.
- The supervision of probation orders was beset with practical and theoretical problems,
To implement the recommendations of the study, the following undertakings were made among which:
- The Child Justice Forum (CJF) was initiated in 2001 whose aim is to provide guidance on the transformation of administration of justice for children by ensuring adherence to the set minimum standards for juveniles in contact with the law
- Formation of three thematic areas of the programmes (Arrest, Reception and Referral Services (ARRS), Child Friendly Court (CFC) and Diversion.
Overall goal of the CJF
Enhanced inter-sectoral cooperation aimed at improved service delivery in child justice administration in line with the international instruments.
Objectives of the CJF
To provide guidance on the transformation of the juvenile justice system in accordance with international human rights instruments
- To ensure that children’s rights are respected at every stage of juvenile justice administration
- To create awareness and sensitizing key stakeholders such as the police, prosecution, the court, correctional facility, the social welfare, civil society and the community at large on juvenile justice issues;
- To prevent juveniles from unnecessarily moving further into the criminal justice system
- To prevent oversight on the implementation of the child justice pilot programmes and others
The CJF is chaired by the Judiciary and it is with the Judiciary that the Secretariat sits. The Programme is run by the Secretariat comprising the Programme Coordinator appointed by the Judicial Service Commission and the Chairperson, who is an adjudicator at the Lusaka Subordinate Court.
The CJF operates through three subcommittees derived from the thematic areas, namely;
- Diversion and ARRS
- Child Friendly Courts and;
- Resource Mobilisation Subcommittee
The subcommittees are composed of institutional representation dependent on their core mandates and/or incidental operations.
The Forum comprises membership from governmental, quasi-government and civil society institutions. As it is an open ended group the enlisted members are neither conclusive nor exhaustive;
- Zambia Police
- National Prosecution Authority
- Drug Enforcement Commission
- Zambia Correctional Services
- Legal Aid Board
- MCDSS- Dept of Social Welfare
- Zambia Law Development Commission (ZLDC)
- Zambia Civic Education Association(ZCEA)
- Human Rights Commission
- National Legal Aid Clinic for Women
- Prisons Care and Counseling Association (PRISCAA)
- Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA)
- Advocacy for Child Justice
- Undikumbukire (UP) Zambia
At district level, the Child Justice Forum is constituted as the Local Child Justice Forum (LCJF), comprising of representation from relevant actors in the juvenile justice system at district level. Currently there are over 40 LCJF that have been established so far with several district personnel trained and the LCJFs launched.
The Child Justice Forum has received support for the implementation of its annual plan and interventions from various partners including but not limited to OSISA, UNICEF, GIZ, Centre for Infectious Disease Research Zambia (CIDRZ), Save The Children.
Pursuant to the CJF’s objectives and its annual work plans, several interventions are undertaken towards the transformation of the child justice sector. A few below are highlighted;
- The Diversion Programme launched in December 2018 by the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services with the support of UNICEF is at the centre of programmes that the Stakeholders on the Forum are availed to implementing. In that regard, 2019 saw the training of Trainers for the Diversion project in the four Pilot Districts, namely Kapiri Mposhi, Lusaka, Ndola and Kitwe. This was followed by the trainings between the period of June to August 2019 of middle management, operatives and top management personnel of the Zambia Police Service, the Judiciary, the Zambia Correctional Services, Ministry of Community Development and Social Services, Drug Enforcement Commission, National Prosecution Authority and selected Civil Society Organisations providing rehabilitative and skills training services to juvenile offenders.
In October 2019 the stakeholders were trained in Diversion Data management and training in Mediation of service providers in the pilot districts followed. As at December 2019, implementation of diversion had began and the Social Welfare Department, Headquarters had since recorded 184 cases of diversion from both pilot and non-pilot Districts.
- Further to facilitate the adequate processing of juveniles in conflict with the law taking into consideration their best interest, their full harmonious development and their inherent rights; the Child Justice Forum has embarked on building the capacity of role players, particularly operatives who have first contact with juveniles who are in conflict with the law.
- Yearly the CJF has continued to build the capacity of role players in juvenile justice and child rights with the support of partners, to name but a few CIDRZ , UNICEF, GIZ. These have supported training of a multi sectoral personnel in Districts countrywide in child rights and juvenile justice.
- The Child Justice Forum regularly conducts monitoring of children from the arrest, reception and referral stages, through while they undergo trial, while they await confirmation and through to their conveyance to institutions as per order of the Courts.
- The Resource Mobilisation Subcommittee lobbies for support from partners and the general public for the welfare of juveniles in the correctional facilities and institutions. The support varies from food, clothing, foot wear, beddings as well as infrastructural refurbishments such as painting, ablution repairs, and modification of existing infrastructure to child friendly spaces.
- Facilitating for the development of interventions to remedy bottlenecks highlighted by various researches and systems audits for example the 2014 to 2017 Performance Audit Report published in December 2018.
- Facilitation of engagements on various conversation on child justice such as that undertaken on deprivation of Liberty as a measure of last resort in collaboration with ZCEA; the Child Rights Clubs and the Judiciary.
Child Justice Forum- Secretariat
2nd Floor, Magistrates Court Complex
John Mbita Road, (Off Nationalist Rd.)