Children’s rights are a subset of human rights with particular attention to the rights of special protection and care afforded to minors. The Children Act makes provision for parental responsibility, fostering, adoption, custody, maintenance, guardianship, care and protection of children; makes provision for the administration of children’s institutions; gives effect to the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
Here are the rights of children in Kenya.
1. Survival and best interests of the child
- Every child shall have an inherent right to life, and it shall be the responsibility of the government and the family to ensure the survival and development of the child.
- In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
- All judicial and administrative institutions, and all persons acting in the name of these institutions, where they are exercising any powers conferred by the Children Act shall treat the interests of the child as the first and paramount consideration to the extent that this is consistent with adopting a course of action calculated to;
- Safeguard and promote the rights and welfare of the child.
- Conserve and promote the welfare of the child.
- Secure for the child such guidance and correction as is necessary for the welfare of the child and in the public interest.
- In any matters of procedure affecting a child, the child shall be accorded an opportunity to express his opinion, and that opinion shall be taken into account as may be appropriate taking into account the child’s age and the degree of maturity.
- No child shall be subjected to discrimination on the ground of origin, sex, religion, creed, custom, language, opinion, conscience, colour, birth, social, political, economic or other status, race, disability, tribe, residence or local connection.
3. Right to parental care
- A child shall have a right to live with and to be cared for by his parents.
- Where the court or the Director of Children’s Services determines in accordance with the law that it is in the best interests of the child to separate him from his parent, the best alternative care available shall be provided for the child.
- Where a child is separated from his family without the leave of the court, the government shall provide assistance for reunification of the child with his/her family.
4. Right to education
- Every child shall be entitled to education the provision of which shall be the responsibility of the government and the parents.
- Every child shall be entitled to free basic education which shall be compulsory in accordance with Article 28 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
5. Right to religious education
- Every child shall have a right to religious education subject to appropriate parental guidance.
- The Cabinet Secretary shall make regulations giving effect to the rights of children from minority communities to give fulfillment to their culture and to practice their own language or religion.
6. Right to health care
- Every child shall have a right to health and medical care the provision of which shall be the responsibility of the parents and the government.
7. Protection from child labour and armed conflict
- Every child shall be protected from economic exploitation and any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.
- No child shall take part in hostilities or be recruited in armed conflicts, and where armed conflict occurs, respect for and protection and care of children shall be maintained in accordance with the law.
- It shall be the responsibility of the government to provide protection, rehabilitation care, recovery and re-integration into normal social life for any child who may become a victim of armed conflict or natural disaster.
- The Cabinet Secretary shall make regulations in respect of periods of work and legitimate establishments for such work by children above the age of sixteen years.
- Child labour refers to any situation where a child provides labour in exchange for payment and includes;
- Any situation where a child provides labour as an assistant to another person and his labour is deemed to be the labour of that other person for the purposes of payment.
- Any situation where a child’s labour is used for gain by any individual or institution whether or not the child benefits directly or indirectly.
- Any situation where there is in existence a contract for services where the party providing the services is a child whether the person using the services does so directly or by agent.
8. Name and nationality
- Every child shall have a right to a name and nationality and where a child is deprived of his identity the government shall provide appropriate assistance and protection, with a view to establishing his identity.
9. Disabled child
- A disabled child shall have the right to be treated with dignity, and to be accorded appropriate medical treatment, special care, education and training free of charge or at a reduced cost whenever possible.
10. Protection from abuse, etc.
- A child shall be entitled to protection from physical and psychological abuse, neglect and any other form of exploitation including sale, trafficking or abduction by any person.
- Any child who becomes the victim of abuse, shall be accorded appropriate treatment and rehabilitation.
11. Protection from harmful cultural rites, etc.
- No person shall subject a child to female circumcision, early marriage or other cultural rites, customs or traditional practices that are likely to negatively affect the child’s life, health, social welfare, dignity or physical or psychological development.
12. Protection from sexual exploitation
- A child shall be protected from sexual exploitation and use in prostitution, inducement or coercion to engage in any sexual activity, and exposure to obscene materials.
13. Protection from drugs
- Every child shall be entitled to protection from the use of hallucinogens, narcotics, alcohol, tobacco products or psychotropic drugs and any other drugs that may be declared harmful by the Minister responsible for health and from being involved in their production, trafficking or distribution.
14. Leisure and recreation
- A child shall be entitled to leisure, play and participation in cultural and artistic activities.
15. Torture and deprivation of liberty
- No child shall be subjected to torture, cruel treatment or punishment, unlawful arrest or deprivation of liberty.
- Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, no child shall be subjected to capital punishment or to life imprisonment.
- A child offender shall be separated from adults in custody.
- A child who is arrested and detained shall be accorded legal and other assistance by the government as well as contact with his family.
16. Right to privacy
- Every child shall have the right to privacy subject to parental guidance.
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