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Continental Conference on Access to Justice for Children in Africa: Spotlighting the invisible

May 8-10, 2018 African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) and Defence for Children International (DCI) Co-organised a three-day Continental Conference on Access to Justice for Children in Africa: Spotlighting the invisible, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Can justice for children approach to ensure that all children are better served and protected by the justice system? What are the pathways, and what rigorous evidence exists? These and other questions were deliberated by more than 200 children’s rights campaigners and defenders, lawyers, academics, journalists, heads of state, policy-makers and lawmakers during the conference, organised from 8-10 May 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia by ACPF and DCI.

The conference’s key background report – Spotlighting the Invisible: Justice for Children in Africa – produced to better understand the problem and inform policy actions for accelerating the realisation of children’s right to access to justice brought out issues that can guide interventions.

Key amongst are that despite some progress, hundreds of thousands of African children are still being denied access to justice. Equally, the use of “informal justice” – traditional, religious, ethnic or community-based customs – presents big challenges in protecting children. While positive elements of these systems must not be disregarded, they are also not regulated so they follow the same international children’s rights standards as their formal counterparts. Further, certain groups of children considered vulnerable have a disproportionately difficult time in accessing justice through both the formal and informal justice mechanisms.

The conference Call for Action which was unanimously adopted and endorsed by all participants (https://app.box.com/s/86wy0cy0mdz9jdllhniw9vtm9z0u5t8x) aimed to serve as clarion to governments and all other stakeholders involved in child justice in Africa to intensify their efforts, to reach out to the most vulnerable children, and to ensure the implementation of agreed universal standards for the rights and protection of our children. Download the conference materials including the report, call to action, programme, concept note, participant list and presentations here.

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