The Children and the Law Programme facilitates and promotes law reform on children’s rights in Africa. It highlights good practices and gaps in national legislative and implementation measures as prescribed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and other regional
instruments. It contributes to ensuring the promotion and defence of child rights and wellbeing, the formulation of supportive pro-child economic policies, and the provision of special protection for Africa’s most vulnerable children.

Law Reform and Harmonisation

A comprehensive and systematic review of laws relating to children is an essential step in the harmonisation process. It must be done in order to identify inconsistencies and gaps, and it ensures that the rights of children are adequately addressed and implemented in national laws and policies. This project assesses the extent to which national laws comply with international conventions on children; disseminates information and promotes harmonisation of laws with international standards in African countries; highlights best practices and lessons learnt on harmonisation and the process by which it is carried out; drafts guidelines on harmonisation and on monitoring mechanisms; monitors progress; and advocates for, or provides, technical assistance for harmonisation.

Given the wealth of information we have gathered on the status of harmonisation of laws throughout Africa, ACPF works towards translating recommendations made in harmonisation and best practice reports in ways that will inform concrete policy and legislative change and enhance the legal protection of children in Africa. Additionally, the Child Law Resources (CLR), launched by ACPF in 2011, provides existing international, regional and national legal instruments and documents related to children in one accessible and comprehensive database, online and on CD.

Child Justice in Africa

This project promotes the best interest of the child in the child justice systems in Africa. Regional studies examine the extent to which international standards are
applied within the criminal and child justice systems in Africa, from the point where children come into contact with the law to the sentencing procedures applied to children in conflict with the law.

A more comprehensive understanding of the treatment of children within the criminal and child justice systems in Africa, which reflects impediments and opportunities in the field of enhanced protection, will allow for the development of effective and sustainable interventions.

Engaging with Regional Mechanisms for Child Rights

ACPF supports the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) in its mandate to monitor child rights in Africa. This project builds the capacity of civil society organisations (CSOs), child-led initiatives and other actors to engage with mechanisms for child rights at national, regional and international levels. The project also engages with mechanisms at sub-regional level, such as Regional Economic Communities, to promote a child rights
agenda within these platforms.

Extending Legal Protection to Children

The Children’s Legal Protection Centre (CLPC) provides legal advice and representation as well as psychosocial support to children who are either victims or perpetrators of criminal offences. The CLPC in Ethiopia is being implemented by the Federal High Courts with the goal of ensuring sustainability and support for the establishment of CLPCs at national level. Building on the experience of the CLPC in Ethiopia, as well as that of similar institutions in other countries in Africa, ACPF aims to facilitate the establishment of children’s legal protection centres elsewhere on the continent.

The outcomes of this work include: the provision of legal protection to children who are victims of abuse and violence; improved capacity for justice systems through training of police officers and judges; areas for legal reform identified, initiated and supported; a public better informed on child protection; and a platform for dialogue established between governments, legal institutions and other stakeholders.