The staff learned from papers presented by UNICEF, Defense for Children International (DCI), Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs and Lawyers of the Legal Aid Board.
The papers include Introduction to Child Protection, International and Regional Framework on Legal Assistance to Children, Child Interviewing Techniques, Justice for children’s Approach, Child Friendly Messaging, Communicating Justice for Children, Alternative Care Policy and Case Management, Situation of children in contact with the law in Sierra Leone and National Framework on Child’s Rights.
UNICEF’s Child Protection Specialist, N’dangariro Moyo talked participants through the definition of Child Protection and the difference between Child Protection and Child Rights. She noted that Child protection is a subset of Child Rights. She explained the various forms of abuses which children are subject ranging from physical to exploitation, neglect, sexual and emotional abuse.
The Juvenile Lawyer for the Legal Aid Board, Joel Deen-Tarawally parented a paper on the situation of Children in contact with the law in Sierra Leone. He underlined the achievements in the juvenile justice system in the form of legislations – Child Rights Act 2007, Sexual Offences Act - and the establishment of the Legal Aid Board.
This notwithstanding, he pointed out that the juvenile system is still fraught with challenges ranging from failure to set up committees to promote the child justice environment as provided for in the Child Rights Act 2007, lack of transportation for juvenile offenders, absence of witness tracing mechanism, improperly constituted juvenile courts and lack of psychosocial support for children to ensure they do not reoffend.
The training was climaxed by group work on case scenarios of juvenile matters handled by the Legal Aid Board. Each of the five working groups chose one case scenario from a Criminal, Maintenance or Domestic Violence matter. Also, each group should summary the case, identify the rights of the child, the child protection concerns and the actions that should be taken to protect the rights of the child.