UNICEF Calls for Adoption of Child Rights Acts in All States

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Martins Ifijeh

The United Nations Children’s Education Fund has called on all states in Nigeria to adopt the Child Rights Acts and heed to President Muhammadu Buhari’s call to end all forms of violence against children.

In a statement to mark this year’s Children’s Day, tagged ‘Child Protection and the Sustainable Development Goals’, the UN body said millions of Nigerian children still suffer some form of physical, emotional or sexual violence despite SDGs goal to end the practice by 2030.

According to a 2014 survey by the National Population Commission, with support from UNICEF and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, six out of ten Nigerian children experience at least one of these forms of violence before they reach 18 years old.

“Each one of us is responsible for creating a world where children feel safe, protected and empowered to speak up for themselves,” saidUNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Mohamed Fall.

In line with the SDG target for 2030, Nigeria has launched a Campaign to End Violence Against Children by 2030, which reinforces the presidential call to end such violence first made in September 2015.
“Since 2015, Lagos, Cross River, Benue and Plateau States have launched state-wide campaigns. The Federal Capital Territory and Kano States marked this year’s Nigerian Children’s Day by launching their own campaigns to end violence against children and Gombe State will launch its campaign on 7 June,” Fall said.

He noted that, “to drive the implementation of the national campaign, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development is working with key government partners, civil society and faith-based organisations to develop a National Plan of Action that will set targets and milestones to end violence against children in Nigeria by 2030. UNICEF applauds Nigeria’s national and state governments’ efforts to reduce violence and exploitation of children in Nigeria and has recognised Nigeria as a Global Pathfinding country in the world-wide battle to combat violence against children.

Nigeria adopted the national Child Rights Act in 2003 to domesticate the international Convention on the Rights of the Child. So far, state-wide Child Rights Acts have been passed in 24 of the Nigeria’s 36 states, with Enugu being the most recent to enact the law in December 2016.

“We call on the State Assemblies of the remaining 12 states to urgently pass Child Rights bills and on governors to sign those bills into law. We also call on governors of the 29 states who have not yet launched state-level campaigns to end violence against children to do so,” said Fall. “And even while we increase our commitments to protect children’s rights,” he added, “We must work even harder to make these rights a reality for children in Nigeria.”