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Child abuse policy to be launched

BUSIA
By | April 22nd 2012

By JOE KIARIE

Kenya will finally have a comprehensive policy to curb sexual exploitation of children, particularly by foreign paedophiles. Officials drawn from diverse ministries, the State Law Office and the civil society are currently putting final touches on a comprehensive action plan set to be launched by the end of the year.

But, unfortunately, the plan will come 16 years after the Government was first put on red alert over the escalation of child sex tourism in the country.

Follow-up checks

To protect minors from exploitation, the policy proposes a wide range of measures, among them the development of a training manual on child sex abuse to be incorporated in the school curriculum and the introduction of guidelines on child sex tourism in all tourism schools.

Others include training service providers, among them the tourist police unit, on detection of child sex tourism, sensitisation of travellers on relevant laws on child sex offences in Kenya, sensitisation and mobilisation of local community leaders against the vice, the promotion of socially responsible tourism as well as the recognition of the 10 best practicing public officers in child protection issues.

The policy also seeks to domesticate the International Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism, which is yet to be widely embraced locally. Also included is publicisation of laws and mechanisms against the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

To ensure paedophiles do not get away with their crimes, the policy proposes the review of the existing legislation and development of new laws regarding child protection, the implementation of the juvenile justice systems, the provision of legal aid in children’s cases as well as the training of law enforcement personnel such as the police, police prosecutors and officials from the State Law Office on improved implementation mechanisms.

It also seeks to strengthen the capacity of service providers to improve their knowledge, skill and competence in handling evidence, including gathering and preservation.

Also proposed is the use of follow-up checks on perpetrators to avert repeat offences. Adelaide Ngaru, the assistant director in charge of children’s services at the National Council for Children’s Services, a semi-autonomous government agency, held a consultative workshop on its development in late 2010.

At the workshop, which was attended by Gender Assistant minister Attanas Keya and Prof Jacqueline Oduor, Secretary, children’s affairs, it was agreed that the plan be swiftly formulated as a core avenue to tackle commercial sexual exploitation of children.

A technical committee was then selected to carry the process forward. The committee is all-inclusive and consists of representatives from the State Law Office, the Tourism, Labour, Education and Health ministries as well as the police department. Also represented is the children’s department, as well as two civil society organisations dealing with children rights.

The parties met last Wednesday and will hold another meeting next week to polish the document in a bid to have it validated and later launched.

Diverse recommendations

According to Ms Ngaru, the policy has been anchored on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as diverse recommendations from various world and regional congresses against the vice.

"The plan will have an implementation matrix that will specify the timeframe for action and equally assign responsibilities to different ministries, departments and organisations," she says. She says due to the dynamism of the sexual exploitation of children, the plan will have a five-year implementation window before progress is discussed and new approaches considered.

"We are doing our best to ensure the plan is ready by the next financial year so that it can be factored in the budget. It will be a core part of our strategic plan for 2012/2017," she states.

Ngaru nonetheless admits efforts to fight the exploitation of children have been hindered by the lack of goodwill, co-ordination and co-operation required to root out the vice.

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