The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) in conjunction with the Parliament of Zimbabwe and with support from the United Nations Democracy Fund held a stakeholder advocacy meeting focusing on access to justice for vulnerable members of the society as it seeks to raise awareness on the Child Justice Bill which is still in its drafting stages.

The participants drawn from the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Senate Thematic Committee on Human Rights and members of the consortium of law-based organisations met to discuss and review the extent to which the Zimbabwean laws conform to international best practices on juvenile justice as well as to discuss the Child Justice Bill.

Ms Agnes Muzondo from the ZLHRs applauded some of the strides being made by the Judiciary Service Commission but called on the law enforcement agents to ensure that juveniles when arrested are kept separate from hardened criminals.

“We are engaging the portfolio committees since their role is to implement laws and ensure the rights of juveniles are protected at all times,” she said.

Senator Shepherd Chengeta, who is also Chief Makumbe, highlighted the need for lawmakers to understand the tenets of the Child Justice Bill as well as protecting the rights of children.

The main focus for the Child Justice Bill is to prescribe how children who would have transgressed to be held accountable for their actions without infringing on their rights.