The Judiciary and development partners have described the opening of the Child Justice Court in Lilongwe as a fulfillment of a constitutional mandate to protect the rights of children in the country.
Among other cases, the court, which is located in Area 4 off Paul Kagame Road, will be handling cases of children accused of committing crimes that will be presided over by special juvenile judges appointed by the Chief Justice.
Speaking when he presided over the opening of the court, Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda said the court will help deliver services aimed at promoting, protecting and upholding the respect of child rights.
He said: “As we all recall, in 2010 we passed the Child Care, Protection and Justice Act. The coming into force of the Act in 2011 marked a significant step in the protection of children’s rights in the justice system.”
Nyirenda further said the Act establishes Child Justice Courts, which are specialised courts mandated to hear all cases involving children.
Acting British High Commissioner Simon Mustard, whose government funded the building of the court, said the juvenile court is a “breakthrough” in ensuring that Malawi treats its children fairly, sensitively and in accordance with the law.
In his remarks, United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) country representative Johannes Wedenig said the opening of the court is an important step and it is testimony to the strong partnership between the Government of Malawi, Unicef and UK Aid.
“We must continue to be diligent in fighting for the rights of children. We must support policies and create an environment that keeps children with their families and in school where they belong,” he said. n