|Founder(s)||Petronella Nenjerama-Nyamapfene, Caleb Mutandwa, Thomas L. Machinga and John Nyamapfene.|
Justice For Children (JCT) is a nongovernmental organization which was established in December 2002 as a Trust under Trust Deed Number MA1300/02.
The organisation's Founding Trustees were Petronella Nenjerama-Nyamapfene, Caleb Mutandwa, Thomas L. Machinga and John Nyamapfene.
The organisation was registered with the Law Society of Zimbabwe on the 26th of February 2004 to provide legal aid to orphans and vulnerable children below the age of 18 years. Its lawyers are registered both with the High Court of Zimbabwe and the Law Society of Zimbabwe. It was later registered with the Department of Social Services as a Private Voluntary Organisation under PVO07/12.
The organisation was formed in view of the rising levels of poverty which were accompanied by escalating legal fees making it impossible for many to access justice. The HIV and AIDS pandemic also weighed in with the problems of orphan hood, child headed households and denial of children’s rights in cases like inheritance. Child abuse in all forms was on the increase and the children needed support as they go through the justice system. There was also general lack of knowledge on the laws and policies that protect children hence their rights would be violated without having recourse to the justice system. These factors are still prevailing in Zimbabwe.
A Zimbabwe in which all children have access to justice and enjoy their human rights.
Justice for Children ensures access to justice to and the enjoyment of human rights by all children below the aged of 18 years through:
- The provision of legal aid to children in difficult circumstances
- Empowering the children and adults on child protection laws and child rights and responsibilities, and
- Research on issues affecting children and advocating for reform.
- JCT is driven by child centeredness
- teamwork, dedication, sensitivity
- professionalism, transparency, accountability
- confidentiality and innovation.
This is the core programme of the organisation in which children, mostly through their parents or guardians and custodians, are given legal assistance in criminal and civil cases. The assistance includes legal advice, drafting legal documents and representation at police stations and in courts. JCT employs various strategies in order to reach more vulnerable children with legal aid. While the organisation has offices in Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare, it carries out Legal Aid Mobile Clinics in areas outside these. Currently, the organisation is covering Chinhoyi, Bindura, Beit Bridge, Chegutu, Mhondoro, Mutasa, and Rusape. The organisation also works with Community Paralegals in these areas in their respective communities to ensure access to justice by children at community level. Further, JCT works with Volunteer Lawyers in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Chinhoyi, Bindura and Chegutu who complement its own lawyers in representing children in court.
The organisation empowers adults and children on child protection laws and procedures through workshops, awareness campaigns and meetings so that they take appropriate action, including seeking legal redress, where children’s rights are violated. The organisation works with the Government in its empowerment efforts. It has therefore partnered with Police Victim Friendly Unit, Victim Friendly Court, Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development and the Department of Social Services in carrying out community awareness activities. The organisation entered into a partnership with the Ministry of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture in 2004 which has now seen Child Law Forum Clubs being formed in Harare, Bindura, Chegutu, Mutasa and Chinhoyi. Children, with the guidance of their teachers, use these clubs to empower themselves on their rights and to participate in issues that affect them. The club members have therefore been instrumental in organizing and participating during international children’s days such as the Day of the African Child.
Research and Advocacy
JCT carries out researches on issues affecting children and documents the findings which are then used to lobby and advocate for policy and law reform. In doing that, it liaises with various stakeholders who include children, law and policy makers. The researches use comparative and human rights approaches and as such, the organisation analyses laws and policies enacted in other countries, regional and international conventions. The organisation has carried researches on birth registration, inheritance, status of the education system and the handling of child sexual abuse cases by the Regional Courts. In 2011 the organization partnered with the Danish Institute For Human Rights in carrying out the Justice for Children Sector Analysis commissioned by the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs. The findings of these researches are shared with government officials. The organisation plays a leading role in advocating for legal reform. In this regard, it believes in working with the law and policy makers rather than using confrontational approaches.
For instance, in 2010, it partnered with Members of Parliament in empowering communities on children’s rights and responsibilities for them to participate in the constitution making process in a manner that would ensure that children’s rights and responsibilities are also included in the constitution. It further partnered with the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs in carrying out national consultative meetings with children which culminated in the children’s national summit which was done at Parliament of Zimbabwe. Constitution Select Committee (COPAC) and various government officials attended the summit. COPAC adopted the findings of consultative meetings and the summit as children’s contributions to the constitution making process. A new Constitution was eventually passed in 2013 with extensive provisions on children's rights. These rights have already started having effect in Zimbabwe, esepcially though the involvement of the courts. There is however need to have legislation aligned to the new Constitution.