Caught between progress, stagnation and a reversal of some gains: Reflections on Kenya's record in implementing children's rights norms

This article was published in AHRLJ Volume 12 No 1 2012. The enactment in 2001 of the Children's Act was a significant development in the implementation of international children's rights norms in Kenya. The Act still stands as the first statute which substantially attempts to domesticate Kenya's obligations under any human rights treaty (in this case, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child). Almost a decade since the Act entered into force, there is a poignant lesson to be learned. This is that in contexts such as Kenya's, where full compliance with international child rights norms requires a process of comprehensive audit of existing laws and policies, not even the enactment of a consolidated law such as the Children's Act suffices. Rather, the process requires a continuous review of all laws, on the one hand, and the putting in place of administrative and other practical measures, on the other. A significant development is the passage of a new Constitution, 2010. However, realising this potential under the new dispensation will require decisive political commitment to ensure the allocation of resources and the institution of practical measures for the implementation of child rights-related laws. The Free Primary Education programme still stands out as an example of a positive measure geared towards addressing the situation of some of Kenya's poor children. The challenge remains of replicating its example to other key areas, including health and child support to poor families. The need for further legal provisions, for example in the area of juvenile justice, the required repeal of laws such as in relation to corporal punishment and the gaps in enforcing existing laws mean that the process of harmonising Kenyan law with CRC and the African Children's Charter is far from complete.
© Dullah Omar Institute | Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions | DOI Constitution
CMS Website by Juizi