The NCAJ Special Taskforce on Children Matters was appointed by the Hon. Chief Justice vide Gazette Notice No. 369 of 29th January 2016 with a mandate to address gaps regarding the administration of justice with regard to children, and is under the leadership of Hon. Lady Justice Martha Koome.
It is mandated to deliver on sixteen areas that form the terms of reference. They are collapsed into three thematic areas which are:
- Legislative, policy, procedural and practice directions reforms,
- Survey and data compilation on all matters of children and training, and
- Infrastructure and co-ordination of all the actors.
The Children Act, 2001 and Article 53 of the Constitution of Kenya makes provision for protection of all children, children in conflict with the law and child victims of abuse. The question therefore remains why do children experience violations especially in the justice system? This is because a lot of the laws lack an implementation mechanism. One of the key principles in child rights in the best interest of the child, the constitution terms it as a paramount principle, nonetheless, there is no definition of the best interest and neither is there a clear guidance on its implementation.
The Legislative and Policy reform subcommittee therefore looks to develop such guidelines, rules, practice directions and regulations to facilitate the implementation of laws. The team also looks at bridging any gaps that exits within laws and suggests amendments to ways the same.
The Taskforce terms of reference:
- To review and report on the status of children in the administration of justice.
- Examine the operative policy and legal regimes as well as the emerging case law to identify the challenges and make appropriate recommendations.
- Assess, review, report and recommend on the service standards of each of the justice sector institutions with respect to children matters.
- Prepare draft rules of procedure for enforcement of fundamental rights of children.
- Conduct a situation analysis of the existing infrastructure and equipment in the criminal justice system in regard to children Matters and develop guidelines for the monitoring, supervision and inspections for holding facilities.
- Develop Guidelines for Child Protection Units and propose mechanisms for the establishment of Child Police Unit in the National Police Service.
- Develop the Court Practice Directions on Children cases.
- Develop the Diversion Regulations.
- Develop a Policy on Mandatory Continuous Professional Development program on child rights for justice and examine and review the training curricula on children.
- Develop policies on re-integration of children accompanying imprisoned mothers.
- Develop policies on separated cells for children (include guidelines/minimum standards of infrastructure of children facilities).
- Development of the guidelines for children with special needs.
- Develop guidelines for inclusion of children with special needs in the Juvenile Justice Actors procedure to be included in the Practice guidelines.
- Develop a coordinated sensitization and awareness strategy.
- Develop a form for presenting the P&C cases in court (to be included in the court practice directions).
- Improve co-ordination of the Juvenile Justice Actors at the National and County level.
Composition of the Taskforce
The Taskforce shall comprise the following members from the following institutions:-
- Department of Children Services
- Directorate of Criminal Investigation.
- Federation of Women Lawyers,
- Kenya Law Reform Commission.
- Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.
- Kenya Prisons Services
- Law Society of Kenya
- Legal Resources Foundation Trust.
- National Council on the Administration of Justice
- National Police Service
- Office of the Director of Public Prosecution.
- Probation and Aftercare Services.
- The Cradle.
- Witness Protection Agency.
Case Information Tool, Children’s Matters
Protocol on Services Week for Children Matters
Court Practice Directions
Fixing the Broken Child Justice Chain Link
Children Belong to All of Us
Status Report on Children in the Justice System in Kenya