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December 5, 2017 - The chairperson of the CRL Rights Commission says one of the issues to address while seeking alternatives to corporal punishment is how children are raised and whose values are valued.

The commission's Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva was speaking during a dialogue in Johannesburg on Tuesday on alternatives to corporal punishment.

"The issue of how we raise our children and whose values are valued is a debate that we should have in a country that is so diverse and coming from a past like ours," she said.

This comes after a ruling by the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg earlier this year that the common law defence of reasonable chastisement is not in line with the Constitution, and no longer applied in South Africa law.

This decision meant South Africa joined other African countries including Kenya, South Sudan, Tunisia, and the Republic of Congo to deem corporal punishment illegal in all settings, including in the justice system, schools and at home.

Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said the commission had always promoted and protected the rights of children.

"We are of the view that, as we protect the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic communities, the rights of the children in those communities are also protected. We do not believe that children should be seen as being outside their communities," she said.

"We have stood up against the abuse of children within cultural and religious communities when there was a need to do so. We have taken very unpopular decisions in our quest to protect children," Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said.

"So for us, issues of children are at the core of the work we do and we have never allowed communities to abuse women, children and young people in the name of culture and religion."

She added that South Africa had long been a signatory to the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child, which looked out for the best interests of the child.

"I dare say the most important thing for every child is to be taught what is right and wrong, to be given boundaries and be taught about consequences of not doing the right thing," she said.

"Basically, children thrive on discipline," Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said.

However, she made it clear that discipline didn't mean corporal punishment, but that the argument had long been whether to change the law first, or to first teach parents that corporal punishment was not the answer.

"The way the whole issue of corporal punishment in the home has been handled has shown that the rights of the silent millions may easily be overridden by a few who have the voice," she said.

Source: News24

Kampala, 1 December 2017- The Federal Government of Somalia and federal member states want swift action taken in addressing the use of child soldiers in armed conflict in the country.

Key representatives from the two levels of government meet in Kampala, Uganda to brainstorm on how to prevent the recruitment of; and use of children in armed conflict.

The one-week forum held from 26 – 30 November 2017, under the auspices of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), provides an avenue for various government departments including the security sector to interface alongside AMISOM military, in coming up with tangible solutions to the problem.

The recruitment and use of children is not only a key security concern but also has the potential to continue to undermine efforts aimed at bringing lasting peace to Somalia.

“AMISOM is doing this as part of its transitional arrangements – that is as we transit from activities being managed and overseen by AMISOM, we would like to prepare the Somali people to manage these programmes by themselves,” the Deputy Special Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson (DSRCC), for Somalia Simon Mulongo, said in his remarks during the official opening of the meeting on Tuesday.

The meeting discussed among other issues, the importance of sensitizing the general public on the disadvantages of child recruitment in armed conflict, policy and law enforcement, that could deter the practice.

“As AMISOM, our aim is to have a smooth transitional exit strategy, but we cannot just leave a vacuum. We have to ensure that the Federal Government and Federal member states continue to work together especially with regards to dealing with the prevention of the recruitment and use of children as soldiers in the conflict in Somalia,” Mr Musa Gbow, AMISOM’s Child Protection Advisor and coordinator of the workshop said.

Gbow emphasized the importance of coming up with a roadmap that will be translated into a policy document and implemented at both the federal and regional level.

“We have learnt a lot of important things from this seminar and its outcome has a huge impact on us, the Somali participants. We nicknamed the seminar the (Birmageeda) organization for the vulnerable. We have appointed a chairperson and our plan is to have coordination between those in Puntland, South West State, Jubbaland and those in Mogadishu,” Ms. Fatumah Abdirahman Duhulow, the Minister of Human Rights in HirShabelle State remarked at the end of the one-week forum.

The Kampala forum which ended yesterday, was supported by the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, and is part of AMISOM’s mandate, to contribute to capacity of institutions in Somalia.

Source: AMISOM

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