NWU's Faculty of Law marches for the rights of children

Issued by North West University
North-West, Feb 28, 2019

More than 200 people participated in the North-West University's (NWU's) awareness march to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Bill of Rights and the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

The march took place on 26 February at the NWU's campus in Potchefstroom, bringing students, staff, children and members of the police and public together in support of children's rights.

The marchers started at the Faculty of Law and ended at the Sanlam Auditorium, where they listened to a public lecture by Karabo Ozah, director of the Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria.

More needs to be done

Ozah said although SA has done well to incorporate the provisions of the CRC (a United Nations document) in the Constitution, a lot more needs to be done.

"We have done well in South Africa in relation to complying with the CRC. There are good legislative measures and policies. We have many laws and policies such as the Children's Act, Sexual Offences Act and South African Schools' Act that play important roles in children's rights. The challenge, however, lies in the implementation of it."

She said a lot more needs to be done in this regard. There are obstacles, however, one of which is governmental budget cuts. "This has dire consequences for the realisation of children's rights."

Another area of concern is the regression in perceptions about the rights of children. "This is mostly due to rhetoric such as that children have too many rights. When people say this, I show them the Constitution and ask them where are the rights that are too many? They need to realise that children's rights are not a threat to adults."

Video message from children's rights champion

Ozah's public lecture was preceded by a special video message to the NWU from Prof Ann Skelton, an expert and advocate for the promotion, protection and fulfilment of children's rights.

She is the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's (Unesco) chair for education law in Africa and a member of the United Nations' committee on the rights of the child.

"We can see that most countries have made inroads where it comes to creating policies and laws, although there are countries that have not progressed in this regard."

She says in the vast majority of countries, including SA, there is quite a big gap between the promise of the CRC as expanded in domestic laws and their actual realisation on the ground.

CRC is about respect

Adv Ren'e Koraan, director for Professional Development and Community Engagement at the Faculty of Law, and one of the organisers of the event, says the importance of the CRC should not be underestimated. It lies in the CRC's steadfastness in imbuing respect for the dignity and worth of and respect for the person of the child, while also promoting social, political and economic rights for children in a free society.

She says the CRC is not only the most ratified of all human rights treaties, but ratification has also taken place in a remarkably brief period of time. Its greatest value lies in its impact on state behaviour towards the rights of children.