Continental Conference on Access to Justice for Children in Africa

It was from May 8 to 10 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that the Continental Conference on Access to Justice for Children in Africa entitled “From Shadow to Light” was held. 

The IBCR was pleased to participate in this conference and to present its activities and experience in Africa through Mr. Theodore Nikyema, Board Member of the Bureau. The conference, co-organised by the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) and Defense for Children International (DCI), served as a forum for 200 child rights experts, representatives of Governments, civil society, policymakers, lawyers, researchers and journalists to examine and explore ways to ensure that children in Africa, and particularly the most vulnerable, get access to justice and are treated fairly and decently by the justice system.

At this conference, Mr Nikyema was invited to present the project currently being implemented by the IBCR in Burkina Faso, about the capacity building of actors in the child protection system, particularly in the field of justice. In addition to an introduction on the origin of the project, its objectives, the results, the issues and the impact of the activities to date, the emphasis has been placed on the fact that the project relies on two general elements identified by the ACPF report: the training of professionals and systems strengthening as well as the multidisciplinary approach.

It was also at this conference that the new ACPF report entitled “From Shadow to Light: Justice for Children in Africa” ​​was launched. This report draws from field studies in Egypt, Ethiopia, Liberia, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Tunisia and interviews in southern and eastern Africa. The Conference finally allowed participants to discuss the progress of the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty and ways to ensure its timely completion.

At the end of the conference, a call for action was launched to the attention of African governments, the African Union, treaty bodies, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and the civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, academic institutions, UN agencies, and development partners. The goal was indeed to remind them of their obligation to act immediately because the future of the African continent “depends on the guarantee of justice for its children today”.