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