DCJ Mwilu Slams Parents Conspiring To Conceal Defilement.
Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu has directed that all cases involving children be resolved within six months.
Mwilu expressed regret that some cases involving children take longer than the six months required by law.
She claims that in some cases, children are detained for more than 24 hours and their rights are violated.
Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu has decried the growing number of defilement cases in the country.
She criticized the growing number of parents who conspire to cover up the crimes by sweeping them under the carpet in order to ‘preserve family honor.’
CJ Mwilu spoke when she officiated over a ceremony marking the Day of the African Child at Mbagathi Primary School in Nairobi.
The DCJ noted that there is a growing trend in which when a child reports a defilement to a parent, the parents expend their energies covering up the crime rather than working to obtain justice for the child.
“A parent who conceals defilement is not worth being called a parent. Shame on every parent who tries to cover up instead of seeking justice for their child!’’
The DCJ reacted angrily, saying that such children are destroyed and never recover. A society which does not look out for its children is dead.’’ She added.
DCJ Mwilu urged children who have been victims of defilement not to be silenced. “You must speak out!”
“Even if your parent prefers silence, find someone else you trust – a teacher, an aunt, a responsible person – and tell them.
“Do not be party to the conspiracy of silence which only empowers and emboldens the perpetrators. Even if the perpetrator threatens you, that should not stop you from pursuing justice. What has happened is not your fault.’’
In response to a child’s question about why victims are asked to talk about what happened during the defilement in court, which further traumatizes them, the DCJ stated that courts rule based on the evidence presented to them.
She stated that victims can assist the judiciary in bringing criminals to justice by preserving evidence.
Mwilu urged anyone who has been defiled or raped to resist the urge to take a shower right away and instead report to the nearest hospital so that medical evidence can be collected, which will help to nail the perpetrator and prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
The DCJ stated that the Day of the African Child is significant because it encourages society to reflect on how it treats its children across sectors.
She outlined the steps the Judiciary has taken to ensure that children’s rights are upheld whenever they come into contact with the law.
They include ensuring that children have legal representation by the state if they cannot afford an advocate; imposing a six-month deadline for completing children’s cases; having separate holding facilities for children; and even having dedicated Children Courts and Children Magistrates.
She emphasized that upon taking office, Chief Justice Martha Koome–who has frequently referred to herself as a defender of children’s rights–ordered that court filing fees be waived.
Lady Justice Teresia Matheka, Chairperson of the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) Special Taskforce on Children Matters, stated in the same forum that the Taskforce was established to ensure that all agencies in the justice chain work together and look out for the welfare of children while they are being processed across the system.
The Taskforce includes representatives from the Judiciary, the ODPP, the Children’s Department, the National Police Service, Probation, Prisons, and non-governmental organizations, among others.
According to Justice Matheka, the team establishes standards and holds joint training sessions so that ‘’we have a uniform understanding of what is expected of us as we handle children cases.’’
She also mentioned that the Taskforce visits various children’s justice facilities across the country, including Borstal Institutions, Remand Homes, rehabilitation centers, and Probation Hostels, to assess the facilities’ condition and receive feedback from children and officials on how to improve access to justice for children.
Unlike other functions, this year’s Day of the African Child was set up in a question-and-answer conversational style, with children asking the DCJ questions and she answering them.
Over 1000 children from the eight primary and secondary schools surrounding Mbagathi Primary School attended the event.
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Other students from Machakos, Busia, Kilifi, Kwale, Naivasha, Kiambu, and the Daadab Refugee Camp took part virtually.
The Organization of African Unity established the Day of the African Child in 1991 as a day for governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and stakeholders to reflect on the rights of children.