YOUNG WRITERS with PERRYKENT NKOLE
THE ZAMBIAN Constitution is the supreme law of the land; constitutional development in Zambia spurs over four decades and has always included the bill of rights.
The constitution, as the supreme law in Zambia, provides for the care of institutions, procedures, processes and functions of State and Government organs.
Zambia however does have some legislation on the protection of childrenâ€™s rights in judicial proceedings, but it does not fully comply with the goals of the convention of the rights of the child.
The convention is yet to be domesticated, and therefore holds no authority for application or enforcement by the Zambian courts of law. According to the Zambian law, a minor is one below the age of 19.
Zambia has a dual legal system consisting of traditional and statutory law, which impedes implementation of the convention on the rights of the child because what one system views as illegal the other views as legal.
There is need for ministries that are responsible for the rights of children to ensure these rights are implemented. For instance the right to education is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, while the right to health is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health.
However, little communication between the two ministries has been recorded particularly in relation to the welfare of childrenâ€™s rights.
It is worth noting that international instruments are not self-executing but require legislative implementation to be effective in Zambia.
Cases in relation to international instruments have not been domesticated. Zambia is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), optional protocol to the convention on the rights of the child on the involvement of children in armed conflicts, the African charter on the rights and welfare of the child (ACRWC), ILO convention No. 182 (1999) on the worst forms of child labour in 2001, ILO convention No. 138 (1973) on minimum age convention in 1983.
Despite Zambia being a signatory, it is sad that no information pertaining to article 12 of the African charter on the rights and welfare of the child with regard to childrenâ€™s rights are readily available to the children.
In an interview, Bupe Masebe, a lawyer and advocate for child rights, said it is imperative that the supreme law of the land which is the constitution gives an elaborate description of who a child is so that even if another Act comes in controversy with that definition, the Constitution takes precedence over that Act.
She said that the simple Act of merely defining who a child is would make a world of difference.
As the saying goes, â€œthere can be no keener revelation of a societyâ€™s soul than the way it treats its childrenâ€- Nelson Mandela.
Children are the leaders of today, their rights need to be respected and the only way this can be achieved is when their rights become prominent in the supreme law of the land.
Unfortunately, there isnâ€™t much to talk about that is specific to the rights of children in the supreme law of the land that is why I could only take a glance. The goal is for this glance to be in depth, sooner rather than later.
The author of this article, Perrykent Nkole, 17 is a member of the Childrenâ€™s News Agency (CNA), Lusaka Bureau. firstname.lastname@example.org