New centre for vulnerable children in Burkina Faso to provide improved access to legal and protection services

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 14 September 2023 – Two of Africa’s leading child rights organisations are joining forces to launch the Children’s Legal Protection Centre (CLPC), a ground-breaking facility to provide free and accessible legal and psychosocial services for highly vulnerable children and young people in Burkina Faso.

The CLPC, located in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, is a five-year joint venture between the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) and Children Believe West Africa. It aims to provide access to justice, legal aid and a lawyer for children and young people who are victims, witnesses or alleged offenders.

“All too often, children find themselves caught up in an unfair, inconsistent and discriminatory justice system,” said ACPF Executive Director Dr Joan Nyanyuki. “Access to justice is one of the fundamental human rights and the ability to access justice is a cornerstone for the protection of all children’s rights. In practice, however, this right is often denied to children and young people. The CLPC will provide legal protection and support to those who are abused, denied their rights or who are in conflict with the law.”

The CLPC aims to reach 300 child victims of violence and 200 child offenders through its legal and psychosocial services each year, and to raise awareness among thousands more children religious and community leaders, teachers and care providers across Burkina Faso. It will also provide child-friendly training to government and court officials, police officers, prosecutors, judges and prison administration staff.

The focus will be on providing practical access to legal and psychosocial services including health care, counselling and financial support for court costs and transport.

“Children who come into contact with the law are vulnerable because of their age and their lack of knowledge of the justice system,” said Christelle Kalhoule, Children Believe’s Regional Director for West Africa. “In common with many other African countries, Burkina Faso has signed up to international treaties designed to protect children, and has adopted specific laws on children's rights, but unfortunately despite the good intention on the part of the government to comply with their obligations, there are still numerous gaps in the law.”

The centre will build on the success of a similar CLPC set up by ACPF in Ethiopia which has helped some 40,000 child victims and children in conflict with the law since it opened in 2005. It provides legal counselling to children and their families in cases involving violations of the rights of children, and supports the government to introduce child-friendly justice including child protection units in police stations and child-friendly courts.

“Children in Burkina Faso are crying out for access to justice and protection from violence, sexual exploitation and other abuses,” added Dr Nyanyuki. “Our experience with the CLPC in Ethiopia shows that direct assistance to children and their families, combined with training, capacity building and advocacy to reform policies, laws and structures, can have a powerful impact.”

Children’s access to justice in Burkina Faso is further complicated by the presence - as in many sub-Saharan countries - of both formal and informal justice systems. “It’s important to take account of traditional and cultural practices,” said Ms Kalhoule. “A significant portion of the Burkina Faso population settles disputes outside the state-provided formal court system. We will study carefully how informal justice is applied to children and learn from best practices.”

The CLPC in Ouagadougou will be formally launched in early 2024, but has already opened its doors and is helping children with legal advice and support. “We want to ensure all children can access justice, not just a lucky few,” she added. “Many of these children are vulnerable, unable to fend for themselves and have experienced violence by judicial authorities. With the humanitarian and security crisis in the country, children are exposed to dangers such as recruitment by armed groups, abduction and sexual violence. There is a long way to go before the rights that children enjoy on paper are matched by the reality of their everyday lives.”


For further information or to arrange interviews with ACPF and Children Believe, please contact Martin Atkin, Communications Consultant (UK) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

About ACPF

African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) is an independent, not-for-profit Pan-African centre of policy research and advocacy centre on the African child. It was established in 2003 out of concern about the situation of the African child and the need for Africans to recognise their responsibility to collectively ensure the realisation of all rights to all children. More information here.

About Children Believe

Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world. More information here.


An independent, not-for-profit, Pan-African
Institute of policy research and dialogue on the African child.

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Founder Assefa Bequele, PhD

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