By Fungai Jachi
LEGAL experts have described the Child Justice Bill as a progressive piece of legislation that will establish a Child Justice System that protects children in conflict with the law.
Children in conflict with the law are often stigmatised and shunned by society as they are perceived as a threat to society. Historically, Zimbabwe’s juvenile justice system has been retributive and focused on punishing the juvenile offender.
As such legal experts have welcomed the bill as a progressive piece of legislation that will protect young offenders.
“Young offenders should not be mixed with hard core criminals because it will make them even worse criminals.
“The bill will come as a game changer in the justice system for children because the intention is not to punish the offenders but to ensure that children are rehabilitated and are given the necessary support for them to desist from crime,” said Shingirai Njerere, a legal expert.
“Having a separate justice system for children is key because it’s in line with the constitution. It is also important to note that the provisions of the bill allows for the young offenders to get counseling. This Bill has come at a very important time when crime is on the increase with children bot being spared as perpetrators so it will help in handling young offenders,” said Njerere.
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 international obligations of Zimbabwe.
In the bill the age of criminal responsibility of a child is being reviewed upwards from seven to 12 years among other provisions.