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Newsletter: From Evidence to Action

Child justice system in South Africa-children in conflict with the law

The Child Justice System in South Africa focusing on children in conflict with the law is one in a series of topical guides developed for PAN: Children that provide key information on the current state of affairs in South Africa related to the topic and highlight practical guidance, lessons learnt and case studies (both national and international) that will be helpful in policy development dialogue and knowledge sharing. This topical guide is accompanied by a fact sheet  and a policy brief.


Related publications

This policy brief introduces systematic reviews and evidence gap maps as two relatively new types of synthesised evidence in South African context. It explains why these synthesis tools are particularly valuable for the policy-making processes. It offers a brief history of their development, their main characteristics and procedures, as well as the main resources where they are found. In addition, it describes current production levels and usage of these synthesis tools in South Africa, and concludes with a call for greater attention and use of these tools to improve research evidence availability in the policy-making processes. 

This policy brief highlights various policy considerations to take into account in order to ensure that the child justice system, as legislated in the Child Justice Act, is effective, efficient and more importantly, in the best interests of all children. It is recommended that this brief be read with the topical guide developed in this series for PAN: Children.

This fact sheet discusses the child justice system in South Africa – children in conflict with the law prepared by Lorenzo Wakefield  from Consortium on Crime and Violence Prevention.

The Children's Amendment Bill [B13-2015] & Children's Second Amendment Bill [B14-2015] have been formally introduced in Parliament. Parliament will shortly start the review process and will make a call for comments. It is worth studying these bills in anticipation of the call for submissions. 

This paper focuses briefly on the historical background of the process that preceded the enactment of the Act and highlights some of the developments which improved the situation of children in conflict with the law before the Act. It also gives an indication of the extent of child offending before 1 April 2010 and summarises the aims and other important provisions of the Act. It includes an overview of published documents that relate to the implementation of the Act and provides insight into some implementation-related challenges and achievements.

This Act creates a framework for children entering the criminal justice system. It sets out how are when children are to be prosecuted, appropriate sentences for a court to impose upon child offenders and numerous other aspects.

This paper is a useful introduction to how strategies for change may be most effective when they promote norm change in multiple spheres. It provides a framework that conceptualises the forces that maintain discriminatory gender norms against adolescent girls at the individual, community and structural level. The framework integrates how norms are experienced, the broader structural forces that sustain these norms and the social psychological processes by which gender norms change in order to understand the processes of change.

Link: Reading pack

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is considered one of the most pervasive human rights abuses of our times, affecting more than one in three women globally. VAWG cuts across cultures, socio-economic status, ethnicities and other demographic diversities. However, rates and patterns of violence vary significantly across settings and across the life-cycle, showing that violence against women and girls is not inevitable. There is increasing recognition that efforts to respond to survivors of violence must be complemented by holistic prevention efforts to stop violence before it starts. The eight readings selected for this pack illustrate core elements of the challenges in addressing this complex and deeply rooted problem, including: stronger enforcement of laws and policies to prohibit VAWG; improved access to comprehensive support for survivors; more holistic and longer term investment in prevention, including shifting discriminatory social norms and engaging men and boys; and further evidence about what works to prevent VAWG, cost-effectiveness and how efforts can be taken to scale.

Link: Publication

This report aims to stimulate discussion and action by decision-makers and serve to inform the strategic thinking, programming and practice. It confirms well-known hindrances, identifies opportunities, and highlights how meaningful youth participation needs to address power. It calls on the broad range of actors working on child and youth development issues to take action and improve their own effectiveness and the enabling environment. While several findings identify new challenges and opportunities, others add more nuance and context to current discussions on child and youth development. The recurrence of some issues suggests that current actions are either inadequate or absent.

Link: Publication

This helpdesk query from GSDRC answers the following question:- What evidence is there on the development outcomes of the political and social inclusion of young people? Review the evidence in lower and middle income countries for including young people (10-25 years) in political processes, formal institutions and governance structures (political inclusion) and informal institutions such as household and community structures (social inclusion). What development outcomes (positive and negative / costs and benefits) are associated with these forms of inclusion, both for the youth cohort as well as wider society?

The 2012 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons released  by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) states that 27 per cent of all victims of human trafficking officially detected globally between 2007 and 2010 are children, up 7 per cent from the period 2003 to 2006. An increase in the number of girl victims, who make up two thirds of all trafficked children. Girls now constitute 15 to 20 per cent of the total number of all detected victims, including adults, whereas boys comprise about 10 per cent, says the Report, which is based on official data supplied by 132 countries. "Human trafficking requires a forceful response founded on the assistance and protection for victims, rigorous enforcement by the criminal justice system, a sound migration policy and firm regulation of the labour markets," said Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC of the findings.

Link: Publication

Crime presents a fundamental challenge in South Africa. Particularly disturbing is the prevalence of violence committed by and against young people. The main purpose of this article is to look at how South Africa should deal with the issue of youth violence. It argues that while structural violence constitutes a significant contextual cause of the phenomenon, a more proximate and specific cause lies in young people’s exposure to direct violence in their schools, homes and communities. This article thus examines the potential merits of restorative justice as a response to the problem of youth violence, focusing particularly on the 2009 Child Justice Act.

Link: Report
Children in Prison In South Africa

This report is an update to the situational analysis of children in prison in South Africa prepared by the Community Law Centre in 1997. The Child Justice Act 75 of 2008 (Child Justice Act), promulgated in 2010, introduced a markedly different child justice regime than that which was previously regulated by the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 and the common law. This development, along with various others which have emerged since 1997, has changed the way in which South Africa’s courts and correctional system deal with children in conflict with the law. Accordingly, an updated analysis on children in prison became necessary.

The Child Justice Alliance has published a report on the second year of implementation of the Child Justice Act (CJA). In terms of the CJA, the Ministers responsible for the Act must submit an annual implementation report. A report was duly submitted in June 2011. The Child Justice Alliance submitted a parallel report highlighting some of the key implementation challenges. Some of these have since been addressed, but a number of critical issues remain outstanding. - See more at: http://www.advocacyaid.com/index.php/child-justice/130-report-published-...

This report is an update to the situational analysis of children in prison in South Africa prepared by the Community Law Centre in 1997. The Child Justice Act 75 of 2008 (Child Justice Act), promulgated on 1 April 2010, introduced a markedly different child justice regime than that which was previously regulated by the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 and the common law. This development, along with various others which have emerged since 1997 (e.g. child justice jurisprudence and government’s renewed focus on children in conflict with the law), has changed the way in which South Africa’s courts and correctional system deal with children in conflict with the law. Accordingly, an updated analysis on children in prison became necessary.

This is a report tracking the implementation process of certain aspects of the Child Justice Act. It focuses on 3 main themes and highlights the impact and effects that certain of the theme - related challenges have had on the overall implementation of the Act. The three themes are:

(1) Diversion (including the accreditation process, the continuing decrease in the number of diversions, the impact thereof and other diversion-related challenges),

(2) The sentencing of children to compulsory residence in Child and Youth Care Centres (including the availability of facilities, the challenges being experienced in the handing over of reform school and schools of industry facilities to the Department of Social Development and related issues), and

(3) One Stop Child Justice Centres (including the implementation of the Act at these Centres).

The KidsRights Index is the annual global index which ranks how countries adhere to and are equipped to improve children’s rights. The KidsRights Index is an initiative of the KidsRights Foundation, in cooperation with Erasmus University Rotterdam: Erasmus School of Economics and the International Institute of Social Studies. It comprises a ranking for all UN member states that have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and for which sufficient data is available, a total of 165 countries. The KidsRights Index exists of 5 domains:1. Right to Life, 2. Right to Health 3. Right to Education 4. Right to Protection, and, 5. Enabling Environment for Child Rights. Also available at the above link are a report, infographic and news coverage.

A notice from the Department of Social Development, the Child rights sector Indaba has been postponed until further notice. The department remains committed to engage with the sector. Kindly accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience  that this may have caused.

Link: Details

The theme selected by the African Committee for the celebration of the DAC in 2017 is “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for children in Africa: Accelerating protection, empowerment, and equal opportunity”. DAC was instituted in 1991 by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the then OAU instituted in memory of the 16th June 1976 student uprising in Soweto, South Africa. In selecting the theme for the 2017 DAC celebration, the Committee is reconfirming the importance of linking the 2030 Agenda with child rights. It is emphasizing that with a view to increase accountability, strengthen coherence and alignment among various stakeholders, prevent inequitable outcomes, and invest in all children, and to stress that the child rights commitments of States need to be made central to the implementation of SDGs. In addition, the Committee, as a treaty body, is seeking to draw attention to the fact that, the so called “priority SDG targets and indicators for children” should be brought closer to the African Charter reporting cycle.

When do minimum ages protect or limit children’s rights? What is meant by capacity and free and informed consent? How can greater rights recognition rather than age thresholds better protect children from abuse? And why on earth is children’s access to justice limited simply because of their age? These are some of the questions CRIN addresses in its new discussion paper Age is Arbitrary: setting minimum ages (see link to discussion paper above), which examines a series of contentious children’s rights issues using general principles and rights-based criteria, and exposing how minimum ages can be inconsistent, discriminatory and arbitrary.With this discussion document CRIN wants to encourage new debate on setting minimum ages.

This issue paper was prepared to stimulate debate and to elicit responses which will serve as basis for the SALRC‘s deliberations in an investigation into the rights of a child to know his or her own biological origins.

The SA Law Reform Commission (SALRC) is asking for comment on its Issue Paper on whether a child should have a legal right to know his or her biological origins and how such a right could be enforced and whether the law should be amended in light of prevailing and anticipated circumstances and contemporary mores and thinking.

Find here: Issue Paper 32: The Right to Know One‘s Own Biological Origins

Comments can be emailed to Veruksha Bhana at [email protected]  by no later than Thursday, 31 August 2017.

Enquiries can be directed to Veruksha Bhana on tel (012) 622 6332

Link: Publication

The Committee recognizes that children face many violations of their rights under the African Children’s Charter when their parents and/or primary caregivers come into conflict with the law. Through its consideration of States Parties’ Reports, and other activities falling within its mandate, the African committee has become aware that children can be affected by both the stigma of their parent or primary caregiver’s involvement with the criminal justice system as well as by the trauma of separation caused by arrest, pre-trial detention and imprisonment. In recognition of the importance and invisibility of the issue of children affected by the incarceration of their parents/ primary caregivers, the African Committee decided to prepare its first General Comment on this issue  - More

Link: Publication

In this issue, the first feature is on South Africa’s reporting obligations in terms of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child before the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child – with a focus on the Child Justice System. The second feature, Christina Nomdo, Blanche Rezant, Loraine Townsend, and Samantha Waterhouse provide an overview of RAPCAN’s Child Witness Project which advocates for a child rights based approach in the criminal justice system for child victims of sexual abuse. The feature provides, among others, a justification for the project and the aims of the project.The third feature, which concludes this edition, is by Anna D. Tomasi, Advocacy Officer for the Defence for Children International, elaborating on the call for a global study of children deprived of liberty.

The child justice system in South Africa-children in conflict with the law is one in a series of topical guides developed for PAN: Children that provide key information on the current state of affairs in South Africa related to the topic and highlight practical guidance, lessons learnt and case studies (both national and international) that will be helpful in policy development dialogue and knowledge sharing.This topical guide is accompanied by a fact sheet and a policy brief.