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UNICEF heralds new children’s protection laws in South Africa

UNICEF heralds new children’s protection laws in South Africa

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has welcomed the signing of new laws in South Africa on the protection of children, calling them “a major step” forward in ensuring the well-being of the country’s young people.

The Children’s Amendment Act “is a comprehensive piece of legislation that is line with provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,” UNICEF country representative Macharia Kamau said this week in a press statement issued in Cape Town.

The new law stresses the role of the State in strengthening the capacity of families and communities to care for and protect children, UNICEF said, and differs from previous laws where the State only intervenes after a child has already suffered abuse, neglect or exploitation.

The Act also details protective measures for children deprived of family care to receive support through foster care or in child and youth-care centres.

Welcoming the legislation, Ms. Kamau said South Africa still faced critical challenges in making sure that the laws are actually implemented – especially in providing enough funds at the national and provincial levels for the care services.

The various Government ministries dealing with the issue, including health, education, justice and social development, also need to cooperate more, she said.

“Resources are lost due to poor inter-sectoral cooperation, and inefficiencies in the effective delivery of services to children at provincial and municipal levels.”