The General Comment on article 30 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) was at the centre of the Child Safeguarding Conference on Thursday 04 September, in Cape Town. The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) launched its first ever General Comment which deals with children of incarcerated parents and primary caregivers.
Adopted in November 2013 during its 21st Session, General Comment (GC) on Article 30 is an authoritative interpretation of this particular provision of the African Children’s Charter. The main objectives of the General Comment are to strengthen understanding of Article 30, and to define the legislation, policy and practice necessary to achieve its full implementation. Bearing in mind several cases of children who are incarcerated with their parents, the Committee asserts through this General Comment that children should not be incarcerated with their parents.
Early this year in April, a sad case of a girl whose aged one year and half who died by suffocation in a prison in Kinshasa (DRC), three days after she was detained with her father who was accused of stealing a plastic chair. http://radiookapi.net/actualite/2014/08/22/debut-des-plaidoiries-dans-laffaire-de-la-fillette-morte-dans-cachot-de-kinshasa/. There are several other reported cases of children who are being incarcerated with their parents. The Committee further states in this General Comment that the provisions of Article 30 do not just apply to mothers, but also to fathers and primary caregivers who may be a foster parent or another family member such as a grand-parent. This is because large numbers of children in Africa are orphaned or living separated from their parents but may still require the protections guaranteed in Article 30. Article 30 applies when primary caregivers are accused or found guilty of infringing the criminal law. This encompasses all stages of criminal proceedings starting from arrest and continuing through to release and integration. The provisions of Article 30 apply whether the primary caregiver is in custody or subject to non-custodial measures.
The Committee recommends that State Parties widely disseminate the GC across government. It should also be made known to different groups of professionals working for and with children, including judges, lawyers and legal aid providers, teachers, guardians, social workers, officials of public or private welfare institutions, as well as to children and civil society. States Parties are also encourage to include information in their periodic reporting to the Committee on the challenges they face and the measures they have taken to implement Article 30.
Watch the launching ceremony on Youtube: