African Committee Of Experts On Child Rights Arrives In Juba

Prof. Julia Sloth-Nielsen speaking to journalist at Juba airport on Sunday [photo by Jok P Mayom]

The ACERWC visit is scheduled to last from 03 – 09 August, 2014 and is in accordance with its mandate to promote and protect the rights of children, pursuant to the African Charter on the Rights and welfare of the Child (ACRWC).

The head of the committee, Prof. Julia Sloth-Nielsen, told journalists that the visit follows the resolution adopted during its 23rd Ordinary Session from 09th to 16th April, 2014. During that session, the Committee expressed its concerns on the humanitarian challenges hindering the protection and well-being of children in the Republic of South Sudan.

“We as a committee of Experts on Rights and Welfare of Child, we are interested with the mandate to monitor the African Charter on Right and Welfare of the Child  which is ratified by 47 of the member states of the African Union” she said.

“We are hopeful; we are running a campaign at the moment for the ratification by all states in the African Union of the charter by the date of 25th Anniversary, which is November next year” she added.

Prof. Sloth-Nielsen said, “The main objective of this mission is to advocate for improved protection and response to children affected by the armed conflict in South Sudan … The committee will assess the impact of armed conflict on children in South Sudan and determine key capacity and resource gaps for the prevention and response for children affected by the conflict” she told journalists at Juba international Airport.

Prof. Sloth-Nielsen explained that the Committee will achieve its aims through meetings with high level government officials from the relevant ministries, and through consultation with the national Human Rights Commission and Civil Society Organizations working on children’s rights issues.

She said that they will also make a tour of affected areas, especially Minkaman IDP camp in Lakes state, where most of the displaced civilians from Jonglei are hosted, as well as Bentiu, Bor and Juba.

“We are going to be meeting with stakeholders and urging South Sudan to ratify the African Children Charter in honor of the children of this Country and of the Continent”, added Professor Sloth-Nielsen. Being the youngest state on the continent, South Sudan has signed, but not yet ratified the African Children’s Charter.

“We are also going to be absorbing as much information as we can about the situation of children in the present difficult time that South Sudan is facing and this relates to many articles that deal with protection of children … with the right to be free from all forms of violence and with protection of children during the armed conflict” she said

Prof. Sloth-Nielsen is visiting Juba for the second time following her visit in 2005, when she came to give technical assistance on writing a Children Act for South Sudan. The Act was adopted in 2007. She was accompanied on the current mission by other members of the Committee, including Justice Opers Chikondure.

On arrival, the Committee commended the efforts of the Government of South Sudan, the African Union, the United Nations Agencies and International and Non Governmental Organizations in seeking peaceful resolutions to the conflicts and in providing humanitarian assistance to the children in particular. Professor Sloth-Nielsen applauded the South Sudanese government for its commitment to the ongoing peace talks.

The ACERWC mission is being undertaken in collaboration with the AU Liaison Office in South Sudan, African Union Peace and Security Department (AUPSD), the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), UNICEF, UNHCR, Save the Children and National Child Rights Coalition.

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