Hon. Chairperson

Hon. Representive of the Principal Institute of Judicial Administration - IJA,

Hon. Trainers and Facilitators,

Hon.Seminar Participants,

Invited guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Let me premise, by thanking the Almighty God, Lord of Mercy, for his blessings which ensured my availability today and to be with you on this very special day, to kickstart capacity building activities for Juvenile Court personnel on matters related to Juvenile Justice planned to run across the country. I understand that participants include Hon. Magistrates, Learned State Attorneys and Advocates, Prosecutors and Social Welfare Officers, thank you for leaving all other competing priorities and finding time to be part of this training.

Allow me to also welcome you here at the Green City, especially for those coming from outside the City of Mbeya and had to travel some way to attend this session. Heartfelt appreciation are extended also to the Institute of Judicial Administration Leadership for the opportunity provided to share some thoughts with you at the curtain raiser for your training. Appreciation are also extended to the sponsors - UNICEF and the Judiciary Management whose support has made this a reality.

Please allow me digress somehow, and this is because Child Justice matters are close to my heart, for about ten year having worked with Children rights matters in Tanzania and South Africa and I believe I was part of a major advocacy drive to ensure there is a holistic legal framework promoting and advancing the rights of children in Tanzania and South Africa. Let's all be thankful for the fact that the Child Act of 2009 is in place in Tanzania, providing a framework for the legal rights for children to ensure their Survival, Development, Participation and Protection rights are ensured.

The African Charter on the Rights of and Welfare of the Child- Article 2 defines a child to mean every human being below the age of eighteen years. The child Act defines a child as a person below the age of eighteen years. The definition under the Child Act has helped to harmonize the meaning of a child which was defined differently by various laws depending on the context and purpose of a particular law. The Law of the Child Act, 2009 was a turning point in the protection of the child in Tanzania. The law remedied some of the weaknesses of the predecessor legal framework. Needless to say that children are vulnerable hence the attention should shift from condemning them to protecting them.

The few days you will be here should provide you an opportunity to critically audit and analyse findings of various studies and implementation reports on issues related to child justice. It has been said that, in many areas, justice for children in Tanzania does not conform to international standards nor African norms and vision for children. That the majority of children are without adequate access to justice when their rights are violated, and throughout the justice process, their rights are further at risk.

The Assessment of the Access to Justice System for Under-18s in Tanzania 2012 by the Legal Sector Reform Programme Tanzania jointly with UNICEF, found numerous barriers facing children who sought to resolve legal disputes, access their legal entitlements or seek redress for violation of their rights in both the informal and formal sectors. The findings are that:

“Children and care givers lack knowledge, awareness and understanding of their rights; Crimes and rights violations against children are underreported because children fear reprisal, fear that they will not be believed or are discouraged, culturally, from making a complaint against an adult. In addition, the long delays characterising the justice system in Tanzania, lead people to seek alternative and informal ways to resolve issues; Few stakeholders have access to the Law of the Child Act and fewer still have had capacity building on the Law; and there is a lack of material capacity within the judicial, quasi-judicial, administrative and community sectors, making it difficult, practically, for process to be followed; There is very limited legal aid, legal representation and legal services available and accessible for children; Proceedings in criminal cases involving child victims and witnesses do not meet international standards and risk revictimising the child; There are limited special protection measures to ensure the safety of the child after reporting a rights violation or crime; Access to justice is limited in the child protection system due to confusion over roles, limited capacity among stakeholders and limited knowledge of the Law of the Child Act; Access to justice for children who are engaged in child labour is limited by lack of understanding of the roles of different agencies and limited knowledge and capacity among labour officers, social welfare officers and the police to implement the law; Children in civil cases may have difficulty finding a ‘next friend’ to represent their interests, and the next friend can often have conflicting motives for intervening; and Current practice in inheritance and land cases discriminates against girls or children born out of wedlock, despite constitutional and legal provisions outlawing discrimination”.

Having perused through your programme, I am aware that you will be here for about five days and that during your time here, you will hark back on concepts and principles of criminal proceedings relating tochildren and be updated on general principals and procedures related to children in Courts - focusing on the Tanzanian context. That you will also be reminded of international and regional standards and norms including child friendly justice and juvenile courts in Tanzania. There will be a sharing of experiences and information on children in criminal proceedings, that will also include sentencing, children as victims and witnesses, diversion- matters which are very relevant, essential and opportune for juvenile justice personnel. There is also an opportunity to gain more knowledge and skills in conduct of civil proceedings related to children. This session I believe will provide you with opportunity to be better equipped to handle care and supervision orders, search and production and exclusion orders and deal with child protection cases such as guardianship, fostercare, adoption, parentage, custody, access and maintenance matters. Ensure that you participate fully by reflective listening, and sharing your knowledge, thoughts and skills. All in all use the opportunity to also share your experiences, and find solutions to respond to challenges that you constantly face or envisage to face in this area.

Without doubt during your time here, you will not be able to attend to or discuss all the challenge that face child justice and that concentration may be on areas were you as juvenile Court personnel have comparative advantage or where you can really put your feet in. This notwithstanding, it is very important to be aware of all the surrounding and compounding factors that may some...