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CHILDREN

GENDER RESEARCH & ADVOCACY PROJECT

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The main piece of legislation on children is currently the Children's Act of 1960. The Act is a South African law which came into effect in Namibia (or “South West Africa” as it was known pre-Independence) on 1 January 1977. This law was inherited by Namibia at Independence and has served as the key piece of children’s legislation in Namibia for over 33 years.

While the obsolete and Western-oriented 1960 law remained in force in Namibia, South
Africa replaced it several times over – first by the Child Care Act 74 of 1983 (which was
not made applicable to “South West Africa” even though it was not yet an independent
nation), and more recently by the Children’s Act 38 of 2005.

Shortly after Namibia became independent in 1990, it became clear that the 1960 Children’s Act required amendment to be more appropriate for the new Namibia. In 1994, the Ministry of Health and Social Services commissioned the Legal Assistance Centre and the Human Rights and Documentation Centre to prepare draft children’s legislation. To make the law less unwieldy, the initial draft legislation was split into two pieces on the basis of the subject matter – a Children’s Status Bill and a Child Care and Protection Bill. This early drafting process took place in consultation with persons who work with children
in various capacities throughout Namibia, by means of a national workshop held in June
1994. The draft bills were subsequently delayed by a change of Ministers. Then, before the bills had moved forward in the drafting process, responsibility for them passed to the new Ministry of Women Affairs and Child Welfare which came into existence in 2000 (the Ministry of Women Affairs and Child Welfare was renamed the Ministry of Gender quality and Child Welfare in 2005).

Since the draft bills had lain dormant for some time, the Ministry of Women Affairs
and Child Welfare solicited additional input from interested parties. Both pieces of draft
children’s legislation were discussed at a three-day workshop held near Windhoek
in October 2001, while a smaller group of stakeholders continued discussion on the
Children’s Status Bill at a workshop in Windhoek in April 2002. The Ministry appointed
a Task Force of persons with expertise in children’s issues to propose refinements to the
two draft bills on the basis of the recommendations made at these workshops. The Task Force met during 2002 and early 2003. The draft legislation was submitted to the technical legal drafters in the Ministry of Justice in 2003, along with minutes of the Task Force meetings containing recommendations for revision.

The Children’s Status Bill was tabled in Parliament in 2003 and passed in late 2006
after extensive amendments were made to it at Cabinet and as a result of committee
hearings held by both the National Assembly and the National Council. Read more about the Children's Status Act.

Changes in personnel at the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare in respect of
both the Minister and the Permanent Secretary interrupted the progress of the lengthier
Child Care and Protection Bill, which remained with the technical drafters at the Ministry
of Justice until mid-2008.

In 2008 the Child Care and Protection Bill was identified as a law reform priority and the
revision process was restarted. Read more about the Child Care and Protection Bill.

Text taken from the report: Public Participation in Law Reform - Revision of Namibia's Draft Child Care and Protection Bill. Final Report 2010. Published by Ministry of Gender Research Equality and Child Welfare, Legal Assistance Centre and
UNICEF

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