Children involved in the justice system are mostly victims of various psychosocial problems. The provision of a legal aid service alone cannot solve their multifaceted problems. These children in the justice system also need educational support, medical support, shelter, counseling, nutritional support, reunification with family, etc. These services are mostly required temporarily until the legal issue that affected their rights and interests are solved.

In the case of the CLPC, a lot of children that would have otherwise been exposed to secondary victimisation due to lack of psychosocial support are being provided with these services through a referral system that refers children in need of these services to institutions that are mandated to provide these services and are members of the referral network.  This is quite an essential aspect of the work of the CLPC and it should be sustained for continuity purposes.

Zahara Legesse Kaufman, MSW, Consultant,

Child, Adolescent, Adult, Couple and Family Therapy

Assessments, Trainings, Retreats and Supervision

Internationally, children’s rights are so divided in terms of sectoral interventions. Everyone is a specialist – legal, educational, psychological, and somewhere we felt the child gets lost in the middle of all these specialisations. For us the child is a whole person... that is why we set up HAQ. We don’t want to be a specialist organisation we believe children have a right to be themselves... HAQ looks at children across sectors and issues and makes the cross-cutting connection between sectors and issues.

Enakshi Ganguly Thukral, HAQ Centre for Child Rights, Delhi, India

CLPCs are a powerful and effective tool for building and sustaining a protective environment for children. Their advocacy is powerful because it has conviction and experience behind it.

Helen Seifu, CLPC, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Children’s Legal Protection Centres are an important means for narrowing the gap between law and practice, extending legal protection to children and ensuring that they have access to justice.  The unique strength of these organisations lies in the fact that they have in-depth, grass-roots knowledge of the reality of children’s lives and of the working of the child protection structures that surround them. They also have the skills and ability needed to channel this intimate understanding of children’s lives into broader advocacy for legal reform and effective advocacy.

It is important for ACPF to double its effort and replicate such initiatives in other parts in Africa in order to redress the abuse and exploitation that children face daily at home, at school, and in the wider community almost everywhere in the world.

Dr Assefa Bequele, Executive Director (2003-2010), Distinguished Fellow, ACPF