Zimbabwe Children’s Act

The Zimbabwe Children’s Act governs ‘the protection, welfare, and supervision of children and juveniles’ in the country. Part IA establishes the Child Welfare Council and Part II establishes children’s courts. Part III is aimed at the ‘prevention of neglect, ill-treatment and exploitation of children and young persons’ and makes it an offence for a parent or guardian to assault, neglect or abandon a child or young person (s.7). Part III also defines numerous situations where a parent or guardian may be deemed to have committed an offence in regards to the treatment of a child. Part IV allows any police officer, health office, education officer or probation officer to remove a child or young person to a place of safety if the child is in need of care or if there are reasonable grounds to believe an offence is being or has being committed as defined in the First Schedule of the Act (s.14(1)(a-b)). S.20 defines the powers of children’s court in respect to a child brought before it. Part V governs places of safety, institutions and training institutes for children. Subject to Part VI of the Act, a children’s court may make a contribution order against a respondent. Part VII governs the adoption of children while foreign adoptions are subject to conditions under Part VIIA. Part VIIB establishes a Child Welfare Fund.

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Zambia: Refugee (Control) Act, 1970

Zambia’s Refugee (Control) Act, 1970 describes the conditions under which refugees will be subject to while in Zambia and details the limited rights of refugees. The Act defines who may be declared a refugee (s.3) and gives the authorities power to direct refugees to enter, leave or move around the country by specified routes (s.5(1)(a-b)). Pursuant to s. 10, the Minister has authority to order the deportation of any refugee “at any time” but is subject to the limitation that the refugee will not be tried, detained, restricted or punished without trial for an offence with a political character after arrival in the country from which he or she came or is likely to be subject to a physical attack upon return. Further, a refugee who has been in Zambia for a continuous period of more than three months has the right to be informed of a deportation order and may make representations against the order on the grounds that they will face a dangerous situation in the returning country (s.10(6)). S.11 declares that a refugee will not be permitted to remain in Zambia unless, in seven days after first arriving, he or she is given a permit to remain. In making such a determination, an authorised officer may use “his discretion” and may refuse a permit “without assigning any reason” (s.11(2)).

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Born in displacement: Challenges in assisting and protecting descendants of internally displaced people

There are an estimated 33 million people internally displaced by conflict and violence. Children make up at least 50 per cent of internally displaced people (IDPs) worldwide. Particularly vulnerable to all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation, they face harsh protection risks during flight and displacement. Internally displaced children require specific attention to ensure their rights are respected, they are not discriminated against and their best interest and participation is at the centre of any decision impacting their lives. The collection of reliable age and sex disaggregated data on IDPs is key to informing programmes for the protection, assistance and, ultimately, achievement of durable solutions for internally displaced children.

The question of whether the descendants of IDPs should be considered and counted as IDPs is important for child protection during displacement. As displacement exacerbates protection risks and poverty and, can cause the breakdown of family and community structures, children born in displacement may, together with children who physically fled their homes, find themselves without basic necessities such as shelter and food. Their education may be disrupted and they may face risks such as forced labour, early marriage, domestic violence and sexual exploitation. Children born to IDPs may therefore be as vulnerable and face the same risks as children who have been physically displaced.

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Getting on the list: the registration of children born to IDPs

Forced displacement devastates lives. Most internally displaced people (IDPs) lose their homes, land, livelihoods and personal documentation, and many suffer the death of family members or become separated from them. Their overall experience severely hampers their ability to exercise a wide range of fundamental human rights. It can also seriously impede children’s right to be registered at birth.

Despite the international obligation to record the births of all children who fall under the jurisdiction of a state, worldwide nearly 230 million children under the age of five have not been registered for a wide range of reasons, from social and cultural to legal and logistical. Many are born to parents who have fled conflict, violence and natural hazards.

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A cartoon to help eradicate statelessness

UNHCR is launching an animation film on statelessness on the occasion of the 74th Ordinary Session of the Council Ministers of the member States of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), being held in Accra on 15 and 16 May.

Statelessness is one of the important topics of discussion at the Accra meeting. At least 750,000 people are stateless or at risk of statelessness in West Africa, and more than 10 million throughout the world. The ministerial conference of the ECOWAS region, which took place in Abidjan in February 2015, was dedicated to the problem of statelessness. It was the occasion for the member States of this sub-regional institution to commit, alongside UNHCR, to eradicating this plight by 2024.

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