Age of criminal responsibility for children reviewed

By ZBC Reporter

THE age of criminal responsibility for a child is being reviewed upwards from 7 to 12 years.

This was revealed in a Post-Cabinet Media Briefing by the Minister of Information ,Publicity and Broadcasting Services Senator Monica Mutsvangwa this Tuesday.

The review is being done in line with the Child Justice Bill,2020 which was presented by the Minister of Justice,Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Honourable Ziyambi Ziyambi.

The nation is informed that the Bill will establish a Child Justice System for children in conflict with the law, in accordance with the values and principles underpinning the Constitution and the international obligations of Zimbabwe,she said.

Furthermore, the Bill will provide for legal representation for children; and the sentencing options available for children. The age of criminal responsibility of a child is being reviewed upwards from 7 to 12 years. The Bill also provides for the establishment of child justice committees at national, provincial and district levels ,added Mutsvangwa.

The Bill seeks to entrench the principles of rehabilitation and restorative justice as an integral part of the child justice system, and to establish procedures for the screening of children to create special rules for a Child Justice Court.

Cabinet also considered and approved the Children’s Amendment Bill 2021 .

It will be amended to align with the 2013 Constitution and incorporate provisions of International Conventions and treaties that Zimbabwe has ratified.

The Bill widens and criminalises instances of child abuse to include allowing a child to reside in or to frequent a brothel; causing the seduction, abduction or commercial sexual exploitation of a child; and causing a child to participate in the propagation of child sexual abuse material. The denial of medical treatment or access to medical treatment to a child without reasonable cause will also be criminalised,Senator Mutsvangwa said.

The Bill places an obligation on any professional person who becomes aware or suspects, on reasonable grounds, that a child is being abused, to report that person to a Police Officer or a Child Protection Officer.

Furthermore, the Bill will criminalise parents or guardians who enable the commission of an offence by a child or fail to take reasonable steps to ensure that the child does not commit an offence.

It was highlighted that institutions that receive children must accommodate them in a family-type environment.

A break in the issue has also come in the form of a new clause that has been incorporated to empower probation officers to obtain birth certificates for children without parental care.