African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

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Adopted by the Organization of the African Union on July 11, 1990. Entered into force on November 29, 1999.

Relevant Provisions of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Article 3

Non-Discrimination: Every child shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the Charter irrespective of the child’s or his/her parents’ or legal guardians’ race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status.

Article 4

In all actions concerning the child undertaken by any person or authority the best interests of the child shall be the primary consideration. In all judicial or administrative proceedings affecting a child who is capable of communicating his/her own views, an opportunity shall be provided for the views of the child to be heard either directly or through an impartial representative as a party to the proceedings, and those views shall be taken into consideration by the relevant authority in accordance with the provisions of appropriate law.

Article 5

Right to life.

Death sentence shall not be pronounced for crimes committed by children.

Article 7

Freedom of expression.

Article 8

Freedom of association.

Article 9

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Article 10

No child shall be subject to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family home or correspondence, or to attacks upon his honor or reputation, provided that parents or legal guardians shall have the right to exercise reasonable supervision over the conduct of their children. The child has the right to protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 16

State Parties shall take specific legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and especially physical or mental injury or abuse, neglect or maltreatment including sexual abuse, while in the care of the child.

Article 17

Administration of Juvenile Justice:

1. Every child accused or found guilty of having infringed penal law shall have the right to special treatment in a manner consistence with the child’s sense of dignity and worth and which reinforces the child’s respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of others.

2. State Parties shall in particular:

a) Protect the imprisoned or detained child, or deprived if his liberty, from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

b) Ensure that children are separated from adults in detention;

c) Ensure that every child accused of infringing the penal law (i) Shall be presumed innocent until duly recognized guilty; (ii) Shall be informed promptly in a language that he understands and in detail of the charge against him, and shall be entitled to the assistance of an interpreter if he/she cannot understand the language used; (iii) Shall be afforded legal and other appropriate assistance in the preparation and presentation of his defense; (iv) Shall have the matter determined as speedily as possible by an impartial tribunal and if found guilty, be entitled to an appeal by a higher tribunal.

d) Prohibit the press and the public from trial.

3. The essential aim of treatment of every child during the trial and also if found guilty of infringing the penal law shall be his or her reformation, reintegration into his or her family and social rehabilitation.

4. There shall be a minimum age below which children shall be presumed not to have the capacity to infringe the penal law.

Article 30

Children of imprisoned Mothers:

1. State Parties to the present Charter shall undertake to provide special treatment to expectant mothers and to mothers of infants and young children who have been accused or found guilty of infringing the penal law and shall in particular:

a) Ensure that a non-custodial sentence will always be first considered when sentencing such mothers;

b) Establish and promote measures alternative to institutional confinement for the treatment of such mothers;

c) Establish special alternative institutions for holding such mothers;

d) Ensure that a mother shall not be imprisoned with her child;

e) Ensure that a death sentence shall not be imposed on such mothers;

f) The essential aim of the penitentiary system will be the reformation, integration of the mother to the family and social rehabilitation.

Status of Signature, Ratification and Accession to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Country Signature Ratification/Accession Date of Deposit
Algeria 21 May 1999 08 July 2003 24 September 2003
Angola - 11 April 1992 07 October 1999
Benin 27 February 1992 17 April 1997 30 May 1997
Botswana 10 July 2001 10 July 2001 10 July 2001
Burkina Faso 27 February 1992 08 June 1992 10 July 1992
Burundi - 28 June 2004 24 August 2004
Cameroon 16 September 1992 05 September 1997 23 June 1999
Cape Verde 27 February 1992 20 July 1993 01 September 1993
Central African Republic 04 February 2003 - -
Chad 06 December 2004 30 March 2000 04 April 2000
Ivory Coast 27 February 2004 01 March 2002 18 June 2007
Comoros 26 February 2004 18 March 2004 16 April 2004
Congo 28 February 1992 08 September 2006 10 October 2006
Democratic Republic of the Congo - - -
Djibouti 28 February 1992 - -
Egypt 30 June 1999 09 May 2001 22 May 2001
Equatorial Guinea - 20 December 2002 19 February 2003
Eritrea - 2 December 1999 25 January 2000
Ethiopia - 02 October 2002 27 December 2002
Gabon 27 February 1992 18 May 2007 12 June 2007
Gambia - 14 December 2000 30 March 2001
Ghana 18 August 1997 10 June 2005 15 July 2005
Guinea 22 May 1998 27 May 1999 21 January 2000
Guinea Bissau 08 March 2005 - -
Kenya - 25 July 2000 10 August 2000
Lesotho - 27 September 1999 29 October 1999
Liberia 14 May 1992 - -
Libyan Ara Jamahiriya 09 June 1998 23 September 2000 03 November 2000
Magadascar 27 February 1992 30 March 2005 24 June 2005
Malawi 13 July 1999 16 September 1999 17 November 1999
Mali 28 February 1996 03 June 1998 14 August 1998
Mauritania - 21 September 2005 14 December 2005
Mauritius 07 November 1991 14 February 1992 27 February 1992
Mozambique - 15 July 1998 22 December 1998
Namibia 13 July 1999 23 July 2004 26 August 2004
Niger 13 July 1999 11 December 1999 -
Nigeria 13 July 1999 23 July 2001 02 May 2003
Rwanda 02 October 1991 11 May 2001 17 May 2001
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic 23 October 1992 - -
Sao Tome & Principe - - -
Senegal 18 May 1992 29 September 1998 30 October 1998
Seychelles 27 February 1992 13 February 1992 27 February 1992
Sierra Leone 14 April 1992 13 May 2002 18 June 2002
Somalia 01 June 1991 - -
South Africa 10 October 1997 07 January 2000 21 January 2000
Sudan - - -
Swaziland 29 June 1992 - -
Tanzania 23 October 1998 16 March 2003 09 May 2003
Togo 27 February 1992 05 May 1998 18 May 1998
Tunisia 16 June 1995 - -
Uganda 26 February 1992 17 August 1994 21 October 1994
Zambia 28 February 1992 - -
Zimbabwe - 19 January 1995 22 February 1995

See International Law