The delegation said there was indeed a disparity between the urban and the rural set up for birth registration, with efforts being made to breach the gap. There had been a strain on the birth registration budget, but steps were being taken to pool resources in this area.
For girls who did not wish to take an academic pathway, an alternative vocational pathway was availablemunity skills centres had been established, which allowed girls who had not progressed academically to undertake an alternative pathway. Zambia had made strides in terms of corporal punishment, and there had been a revision of the training programme for school guidance and counselling teachers. These professionals were now more focused on psycho-social counselling, with every school now having a guidance and counselling section.
Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert asked how many health workers had undergone training when it came to children in general, or more specifically children’s rights?
Another Committee Expert asked about migrant children, noting that the Committee’s position was that children should not be deprived of their liberty and kept in camps. What was the delegation’s response? Regarding the age of criminal responsibility, Zambia was advised to raise the age to 14.
A Committee Expert asked about the 600,000 AIDS orphans. Had this number gone down, or was it on the rise? If a teen needed to go to hospital to obtain contraception, would they go? What would give them confidence that they could go to the health care system and access this material?
GEHAD MADI, Committee Expert and Coordinator of the Country Taskforce for Zambia, thanked the Minister and delegation for their constructive dialogue with the Committee. Mr. Madi noted the good intention of the new dawn government to make a complete turnaround for the enhancement and protection of children’s rights in Zambia. However, he noted that most of the issues which had been raised by the Committee were pending the enactment of the children’s code bill. Mr. Madi hoped Zambia would bear in mind the Committee’s concluding observations while reviewing laws and policies. The age of criminal responsibility remained a serious issue which needed to be attended to, as was the issue of children being recruited in the army under the age of 18. He expressed hope that the next time they met, all issues would be resolved.
MULAMBO HAIMBE, Minister of Justice of Zambia and head of the delegation, thanked the Committee for the constructive and comprehensive dialogue. The process had been an eye opener, as there were clearly areas where lapses needed to be addressed. The new dawn government was committed to achieving the closure of many items which needed to be addressed and had the intention of making as many strides as possible for the justice of all Zambians, including children. Mr. Haimbe extended an invitation to all Special Procedure mandate holders, reiterating there were no restrictions towards the acceptance of visits by these persons. Zambia looked forward to the next meeting with the Committee.
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The delegation of Zambia consisted of representatives from the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Health; the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services; and the Permanent Mission of Zambia to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
It was understood that the State party had shifted the responsibility for the coordination of the implementation of the Convention in 2014; was the new Government retaining this mandate, and did the Ministry have authority to coordinate the implementation of the Convention? What were the reasons for suspending the National Child Council? Did the Human Rights Commission have sufficient resources to execute its functions, and address complaints by children? What measures were being taken to disseminate the Convention and the Committee’s concluding observations among the general public, in particular children? What training programmes were in place for professionals working with children, including judiciary and health professionals?
Were there any plans to continue with the digitisation of data on civil status? What was being done to ensure access to citizenship? What was the financing from the State for birth registration? Was this done by donors, and was the State matching donations? Were people able to obtain birth certificates through the roaming courthouses? During the pandemic, what measures were taken to declare the birth of children? Were there plans to ratify the convention on the reduction of statelessness?
The delegation said that in the past, migrant children had mainly been under the domain of immigration. However, a new approach existed, whereby if a child was trying to enter the country, the child was now brought to the care and protection of social workers. Appropriate measures would be taken to locate their families, and protect these children against trafficking. There were around six facilities or safety shelters in Zambia where children were taken once they were found. Most of the children came from neighbouring countries, including Tanzania and Somalia. These measures ensured that no child was left unattended to or in a discriminatory situation.
GEHAD MADI, Committee Expert and Coordinator of the Country Taskforce for Zambia, noted that many of the answers to the questions depended on the enactment of the bill on the children’s code. Regarding coordination, which was the sole Ministry or governmental department responsible for the coordination of the implementation of the Convention in Zambia?
It was concerning that children were not receiving free legal aid; had the budget for this been approved? Regarding the minimum age of criminal responsibility, this was still set at eight which was low. What was being done to resolve this? What was being done about non-custodial measures, both at the pretrial phase and at sentencing? The Expert asked about measures taken to protect child victims in criminal justice proceedings. Were video recordings used to protect evidence? Were child-friendly procedures consistently used throughout the process?
A lot needed to be done for persons with disabilities. Regarding data on disability, Zambia had created a national disability management system, which was the anchor instrument to register and document persons with disabilities in the country. Currently, more than 35,000 persons with disabilities had been registered. In 2015, Zambia undertook the first national disability survey, and was able to record that over 7 per cent of the population was living with a disability. The survey also highlighted a challenge as many persons with disabilities were hidden from the general populace. To counteract any legit hookup sites this issue, a deliberate policy was introduced to allow increased funding to households with persons with disabilities, which encouraged more people to come forward and report their disabilities. This led to more children with disabilities being recorded and registered.
The school dropout rates remained high, as was the high rate of pregnancy among girls. However, a high number of these girls were still returning to school.