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Protecting the Rights of Children In Namibia
A 3-day meeting to compare the Child Care and Protection Bill with the South African Children’s Act of 2005

17 August 2009: During 2009, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare has been in the process of revising the Child Care and Protection Bill. This Bill is a vital piece of legislation intended to replace the outdated Children’s Act 33 of 1960.

Law reform in this area is essential if children in Namibia are to receive the care and protection they so desperately need. The Bill addresses a number of key areas including children’s courts, early intervention services, procedures for removing endangered children from the home, foster care, adoption, child trafficking, child-headed households and many more issues. In all of these areas, there is a critical need to ensure that the rights of children in Namibia are protected and upheld.

To ensure that the Bill is in the best possible form before being finalised at the end of 2009, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare has engaged in multi-faceted forms of public consultation.

The revision process includes hosting a 3-day workshop to compare and contrast the Namibian bill with the new Children’s Act in South Africa. Many of the provisions in the draft bill are similar to the South African Act and experts from South Africa have been invited to the 3-day meeting to assist with the analysis of the Namibian draft.

The input of the South African experts is particularly important as early experience with their new law has highlighted challenges that can be avoided in the Namibian draft.

The following international guests have been invited:

1. Professor Julia Sloth-Nielsen, Dean of the Law Faculty, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
2. Dr Jacqueline Gallinetti, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
3. Adv Hennie Potgieter, Private Legal Consultant
4. Ms Carina Du Toit, Centre for Child Law, South Africa
5. Ms Patmavathi Moodley, Director: Legal Administration, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
6. Ms Amelia McCarthy, Peace Corps Volunteer & American lawyer

Additional guest(s) may be added at a later date.

Members of the media are invited to attend the opening of the workshop at 8.30 am on Monday 17th August at the Country Club Hotel.

The opening will be conducted by the
Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare & Mr. Ian MacLeod, Representative, UNICEF Namibia.

Members of the media are further invited to a short media session with the international guests at 1pm each day.

The meeting will be officially closed by Chief Justice Shivute at 3.45 pm on Wednesday 19th. Members of the media are invited to attend.

For more information on the draft Child Care and Protection Act, contact
the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare
(061-2833111) or Rachel Coomer at the Legal Assistance Centre (061-223356).

Biographies of international guests
Professor Julia Sloth-Nielsen, University of the Western Cape

Julia Sloth-Nielsen is the Dean of the Law Faculty at the University of the Western Cape and is leading the leading an international contingent of consultants. Professor Sloth-Nielsen is an international expert in the field of children’s rights with particular expertise in African child law. She has undertaken research and consulted on children’s rights law in many different African countries (including Lesotho, Mozambique, Somaliland & Kenya) and has given lectures internationally on children’s rights in Africa. Her current interests include child protection, juvenile justice and the implications of HIV/AIDS for children.

Dr Jacqueline Gallinetti, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Jacqueline Gallinetti is a senior lecturer at the University of the Western Cape. Previously, she was the senior researcher and project co-ordinator of the Children's Rights Project. Professor Gallinetti previously practiced as an attorney at the UCT Legal Aid Clinic, the Legal Aid Board and South Peninsula Legal Aid Clinic, specialising in criminal law, family law and representing children in the Children's Courts. Her doctorate thesis topic is entitled, "An assessment of the significance of the International Labour Organisation's Convention 182 in South Africa with Specific Reference to the Instrumental Use of Children in the Commission of Offences as a Worst Form of Child Labour."

Adv Hennie Potgieter, Private Legal Consultant
Adv Hennie Potgieter is a private legal consultant with almost 20 years experience working as the Principal State Law Adviser and Consultant for the South African Law Reform Commission in Pretoria. Adv Potgieter has acquired expertise in areas such as the law of testate succession, the law of civil procedure relating to debt collection, the law relating to children – both child offenders and children in need of care and protection – as well as constitutional law and the law relating to sexual offences. As a private legal consultant he was part of the team responsible for the drafting of a very comprehensive set of regulations to be promulgated in terms of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005.

Patmavathi Moodley, Director: Legal Administration, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
Pat Moodley is an admitted attorney and acted as the Assistant Dean of the Law Faculty of the University of Durban Westville from 1990- 1997. In 1997 Ms Moodley was appointed to the SA Law Commission where she was part of the team that drafted the Child Justice Act. She served as a magistrate in the Family Court from 2000- 2004. She was then appointed as the Director: child Justice and Family Law at national office where she was responsible for taking the Child Justice Act and the Children’s Act through the Parliamentary process. She has published papers on inter-country adoptions in AGENDA magazine and the journal of the University of Potchefstroom and has presented papers on child-headed households at the Family Law conference in Cape Town in 2008 and at the World Congress of Youth and Family Court Judges and Magistrates in Belfast in 2006.

Ms Carina Du Toit, Centre for Child Law, South Africa
Carina du Toit is an attorney at the Centre for Child Law, where she is actively involved in advanced research, legal drafting, advocacy and law reform. Her main focus is on the management of public interest litigation. Furthermore she actively assists in drafting the legal arguments in matters through three levels of court, the High Court, Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court. Ms du Toit further specialises in cases arising from parental abduction and the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction as well as providing separate legal representation for children in high conflict family law matters. She has extensive knowledge of the Children’s Act having worked on the development of the Act and conducted subsequent training once enacted. Ms du Toit also lectures on child law at the University of Pretoria.

Ms Amelia McCarthy, America
Amelia McCarthy brings 15 years experience as a trial lawyer in the United States, including work on crimes against children. As a United States Peace Corps Volunteer, Ms McCarthy currently acts as an NGO advisor to Oonte Orphans and Vulnerable Children Organisation in Namibia. Oonte serves over 300 orphans, child-headed households and vulnerable children. Prior to joining the Peace Corps, Ms. McCarthy served as the managing member of a US law firm. Her work as a trial lawyer involved complex issues of civil and criminal law on behalf of clients throughout the United States. She has tried more than 50 cases.

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