GroundUp

Victory for children’s rights in the Western Cape

By GroundUp 11 June 2019

Commissioner for Children to be appointed. By Astrid Coombes for GROUNDUP.

First published by GroundUp

For the first time, a province in South Africa will have a dedicated Commissioner for Children.

The Western Cape Commissioner for Children Act was passed on 29 March 2019 and will come into effect on a date still to be determined.

This follows years of lobbying by civil society organisations, and it has the potential to significantly further the protection and promotion of children’s rights.

The Commissioner will be appointed by the Premier of the province for a period of five years. The public will be invited to nominate candidates and raise objections about potential candidates. The provincial legislature will consider nominations and make a recommendation to the Premier.

The Commissioner’s duties include monitoring, researching and investigating matters relating to the protection and promotion of children’s rights. The Commissioner must act independently and without fear, favour or bias.

The monitoring function includes monitoring the impact of provincial laws, policies and services on the rights, needs and interests of children in the province. To this end, the Commissioner is responsible for establishing monitoring systems for the protection and promotion of the rights of children.

The Commissioner may also initiate or conduct research aimed at the development of policy.

In addition, the Commissioner has powers to receive and investigate complaints about services impacting on children provided by provincial organs of state. The Commissioner may subpoena any person to appear before him or her and may make recommendations following investigations. Anyone who fails to furnish the Commissioner with written reasons for refusing or failing to implement recommendations is guilty of an offence and can be fined or sent to jail for up to 12 months.

Anyone can approach the Commissioner to take up a matter for monitoring, research or investigation.

The office of the Commissioner must encourage the involvement of children in the work of the Commissioner. Children must be made aware of the powers and duties of the Commissioner and how they can communicate with him or her. The regulations published in terms of the Act should offer more detail on how the office of the Commissioner will ensure child participation and accessibility to all children.

The introduction of the Commissioner for Children is a long-awaited victory for children and child rights activists.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde recently made a commitment to appoint the Children’s Commissioner by the end of this year. This is encouraging, but there is now an urgent need for the provincial legislature and the Office of the Premier to prioritise the development of regulations under the Act and to set a date by when the Act will come into full effect. Children’s rights organisations across the province are monitoring the process carefully so as to ensure that the best interests of children are protected and promoted. DM

Astrid Coombes is an attorney and a legal researcher at the Equal Education Law Centre. Views expressed are not necessarily those of GroundUp.

Gallery

In other news...

The South African economy is choking harder than the Proteas. Although to be choking you have to actually be eating and the Proteas seem to be on some sort of juice cleanse-like fast…*

Back to the economy: In the first quarter the GDP dive-bombed by a whopping 3.2%. The sense of futility can paralyse us into inaction and moaning. But it’s times like these that call for effort and action, no matter how small. Yes, South Africa is hurting. Yes the ravaged economy is evident everywhere you look. But you can make a difference, in your own personal way and by supporting independent media like Daily Maverick. We’ve pledged to continue the fight through producing incisive and impactful investigations and analysis, the same way we have done every day for the last decade.

By becoming a Maverick Insider you can help us keep doing what we do, so that you and others who can’t afford it, can keep reading the truth. For whatever amount you choose, you can support DM and it only takes a minute.

Support Daily Maverick→Payment options

*Proteas, you know we love you. We’d just love you more if you won occasionally...


Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or if you are already an Insider.

TRAINSPOTTER

A proxy battle for ages through Father, Son, Spirit and the holy ATM

By Richard Poplak

Ring of Fire as performed by Johnny Cash was actually written by June Carter.