Better protection of children
The Oslo Center, together with Children’s Services in Kisumu, Undugu Society and Kenya West Law Society held a training workshop for police officers, children’s officers, volunteer children’s officers, local chiefs, prison and probation officers in Kisumu May 2014. The main aim of the workshop was to build capacity and strengthen the participants’ knowledge of the issues of juvenile justice processes and diversion; how to divert children as soon as possible out of the regular legal justice system. The workshop was also an opportunity for the participants to share experiences and challenges from their own work with children in Kenya.
Interpretation as well as correct implementation of the law is not always straightforward. Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between children in need of care and protection and children in conflict with the law. A child who steals a mango due to hunger – is he or she a child offender or a child in need of care and protection? Much of the discussion centered around such questions. A general agreement was established on the fact that children who commit crimes due to needs they otherwise cannot fulfil, are clearly in need of care and protection, and should not be considered as child offenders.
Undugu Society presented the ways in which they work with children living and working on the streets in order to rehabilitate and integrate these children back to into their families and local communities. Rehabilitation and reintegration are important elements of the diversion process. An early intervention with children who come in contact with the life on the street is necessary in order to prevent these children becoming juvenile delinquents. Family therapy and working on the emotional needs of each family member is important and can help to ensure that children do not end up on the street again.
The OC will continue to work with our partners on improving the lives of vulnerable children. The workshop will be followed up with a second session in September. In the meantime – the participants representing all constituencies in Kisumu County will start the implementation of their action plans on how to strengthen the protection of children in their area of responsibility. In September the same participants will meet again to share experiences about the challenges met while trying to use the newly obtained knowledge.