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Lazarus Chakwera decries gaps in child protection laws

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President Lazarus Chakwera has bemoaned gaps in the country’s laws, saying the development is compounding the fight against child rights violations.

Chakwera was speaking when he addressed the Pan-African Conference on Violence Against Children, which was held virtually Thursday.

“We still have glaring gaps in our legal and policy frameworks that need to be closed because they affect our [law] enforcement and implementation capacity,” he said.

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The President further pointed at social norms and values as some of the factors that hinder children from reporting acts of violence.

On this note, Chakwera said there was a need for civic education to cultivate new behaviours and perceptions for the safety of children.

“We still need to develop strategies for combating new forms of violence, such as cyberbullying, against children, so that Malawi’s progressive Cyber Security Act is enforced and the relevant agencies are capacitated to do so,” he said.

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On a positive note, Chakwera said the country had been ratifying and domesticating international conventions aimed to protect the rights of children, citing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

“As a result of our steady domestication of these instruments to create a safe environment for children, we have registered several achievements.

“We recently amended Chapter IV (23) of the Constitution, which provides the basis for protecting all children from exploitation or abuse. The amendment changed the definition of a child from a person under the age of 16 years to 18 years. In this regard, the minimum age of marriage for both girls and boys was also raised from 15 years to 18 years of age,” he said.

The Pan-African Conference on Violence Against Children was organised for leaders to discuss how best to protect children from exploitation.

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