Discover the Latest Innovations and Lessons Learned in Rule of Law and Legal Empowerment Projects
In December 2014, SIDA published an “Evaluation of Save the Children’s Child Rights Governance and Protection Projects in Tanzania – Zanzibar.” The evaluation discusses challenges and recommendations on everything from one stop centers, children and gender desks at police stations, developing child friendly courts, public prosecutors and paralegal programs. Check out the excerpts below!
The project has managed to lay a foundation for a future child protection system, but the quality of the present approaches, structures and services need to be improved before scaling-up further. The major challenges observed were:
Recommendation to Donors
Challenges with Assessing the Zanzibar program
The difficulties in getting the views of children, as some of them were intimidated by the presence of the adult coordinators or teachers, and also to some extent by the presence of the evaluators. This was dealt with by staying behind and talking casually to children after the ‘formal’ meeting and by splitting up groups into smaller sizes, where they could interact directly with the Tanzanian team member.
The gratefulness of some partners towards SC (and fear of losing support), which made them less willing to criticise. This was dealt with by means of providing scenarios for comment. Also SC staff were proactive to encourage partners to share their views.
Results Framework and the Theory of Change
The results chain has a rather large gap between outputs/activities and the expected outcomes for children. It is not clearly shown how the outputs will lead to or contribute to the desired changes. For example, how will the training of paralegals lead to a situation where children can access their services? What steps are needed for that to happen beyond the training? These gaps in the results chain make monitoring of progress for children difficult and reports therefore tend to focus manly of completion of activities and delivering outputs.
Furthermore, the activities and outputs selected are not sufficiently linked to the obstacles in terms of underlying causes of child abuse and exploitation and the cultural and structural obstacles facing children in accessing justice and rights. As mentioned above, religious and community leaders/institutions play a significant role in family matters and disputes settlement. Despite this, the results framework has mainly targeted the formal justice response systems. Therefore, the activities and outputs produced could not effectively contribute to the expected outcomes.
Children and Gender Affairs Desks at the Police Station
The establishment and capacity development of Police Gender and Children’s Desks (PGCD) in police stations aims to provide child and gender sensitive services to children and victims of gender based violence. Police Gender and Children’s Desks have been established in three out of the five regional police stations and a total of 60 police officers. The training efforts were appreciated and enabled the 60 police officers to better support child victims.
Challenges: Frequent staff changes & limited follow up
However, there have been frequent staff changes since the training. According to the respondents at the Police Gender and Children’s Desk visited, there has been limited follow-up after the initial training to ensure understanding and proper implementation. New staff have not yet received training. Training opportunities depend on UNICEF and SC (project related) plans and budgets and have therefore not been regular. In the Desk visited, two of the officers had not participated in any trainings.
Challenges: Focusing on child offenders & access to legal aid
The training and guidelines provided so far have focused mainly on child and women victims of gender based violence (GBV) while protection of child offenders has not been highlighted as much. Police did not regard young offenders as their area of responsibility. They also mentioned that they have no obligation to help child victims (or offenders) to access legal aid, although the police are aware of ZAFELA legal aid services. Sometimes they do, however, refer victims to a safe house run by Action Aid.
Child friendly court
The establishment of “pilot” child friendly courts aims at providing children with the support and security that they need when they make their appearance in court either as victims, witnesses or offenders. The court is presently used only in cases where the offender is a child and in some custody matters. All other cases involving children are still held at the ordinary regional courts where no provisions are made for children. The child friendly court also does not deal with cases of murder, rape and treason or with cases that are referred to the Khadis court.
Challenges: Delays & Lack of Awareness
So far very few cases have been successfully completed by the child friendly court, due to delays in evidence gathering, withdrawals of cases, witnesses not showing up and lack of awareness among the police, prosecutors and magistrates. Due to these challenges, Zanzibar children have had limited benefits from the child friendly courts.
Challenges: Alternative Sentencing Options & Laws
Furthermore, the court lacks alternative sentencing options because there are no rehabilitation services for young offenders in Zanzibar. Sentencing options are restricted to prison or release. Therefore, the three children so far sentenced have all been released. Finally, there are still laws that prevent children from accessing justice.
Capacity Development of the Department of Public Prosecutors (DPP)
With the aim of strengthening the child justice system, the project has contributed to establishment of a Child Protection Unit at the Department of Public Prosecutors (DPP) and the training of 26 regional and district magistrates (10 female and 16 male), seven prosecutors (three female and four male) and two judges (one female and one male). The training has sought to guide law enforcing agencies that deal with children (as victims, witnesses or offenders) to understand the standard procedures and guidelines that are in place. It also focused on how best they can collaborate to ensure that children who come into contact with the law are given the appropriate support and guidance in the best interest of each child.
Challenges: Inability to train prosecutors & lack of awareness about laws
The training for law enforcement agencies has not yet been sufficient to make a difference for children. Few prosecutors have been reached by the trainings and the level of awareness among judiciary staff of the Children’s Act (now in force for over two years) is still very limited. Most have not received a copy of the law. There has been no systematic training of magistrates or court personnel on the Children’s Act. There is also poor gathering of evidence and investigation in cases relating to children, as the police have not been specifically trained on this subject. As a result the prosecution cases are sometimes weak.
Urgent Needs for Public Prosecutors Children’s Unit
National child protection database
The national child protection database is meant to include information on children who have been abused and the services they receive, as well as most suitable follow up action needed for each child. Training on how to use the database was provided to 40 officials (50% women and 50% men) from social welfare, the police and the one-stop centres.
Challenges: Computer Literacy & Internet Access
The database is presently not working due to limited computer literacy among the officers who were intended to register the data. Another obstacle is the internet access. Modem credits are not supplied by the government, so staff would have to pay for credits themselves.
The establishment and capacity building of Children Councils (CCs) at Shehia, district and national levels, aims to give children voice and influence in accordance with the Children’s Act. The evaluators found that the CCs visited at Shehia level (three out of 218) have not been established according to the government guidelines. The CC members at the Shehia level were mostly handpicked by the Women and Children Coordinators.
Challenges: Selection Bias & Lack of Awareness
Children selected for the Councils were those regarded as “the good children”, meaning that they are well behaved and that the coordinator knows them and their parents or teachers. Children who are not directly involved (and their closest friends) are generally unaware of the CCs. In the schools visited by the evaluation team, children had never heard of the structures, despite their existence since 2010.
Challenges: Gender & Disability Gap
In Zanzibar it has been difficult to recruit boys to the Children Councils. Boys felt that it is mainly girls that have their rights violated and that the Councils therefore were more interesting to girls. In most Children Councils girls amounted to around 70%. Most of the children are teenagers. There were no children with disabilities in the Shehia and district level councils. Children in one Shehia insisted that there were no such children in their community.
Increased Rights Awareness & Practical Application
The evaluation team found that the training provided has indeed resulted in increased awareness of child rights among members of the CCs. Children are quite aware of their rights in principle and have recognised that they do not enjoy these rights in practice. For example, they can explain the “right to participate and be heard” and they are aware that they do not have this right. However, there is still some lack of understanding of what child rights really entail. For instance, children express that they have “the right to respect their parents” and that “children with disabilities have a right to be cared for”.
The main child right violations identified by the CCs were:
Challenges: Cultural Barriers
The children report that they have not yet established dialogue with the parent groups in the Shehias and they do not feel free to directly approach decision-makers at Shehia or district levels or the police. The evaluators noted that these coordinators seem to restrain the children from being overly assertive. Respect towards adults and responsibilities are stressed more than rights. The Coordinators also encourage them to do “good” deeds and to be role models by doing things such as providing schoolbooks and clothes for poor children. The CCs did not know of the existence of paralegals in their communities and the possibility of getting support from them. At the district level, children are restrained by lack of a budget to conduct meetings and undertake activities. Hence, the district CCs only meet when there is training or meetings organised by Save the Children.
Training of paralegals
The project aimed to train paralegals (by the partner organisation Zanzibar Legal Services Centre) to enable them to provide legal counselling services to children and community members in all 10 districts of Zanzibar. Since 2007 ZLCS has trained in total 1500 paralegals. The paralegals are given the basic information on child rights, the Children’s law and other relevant laws and how to work together with partners in dealing with child cases. The paralegals are expected to support parent groups in communities; to raise awareness on child rights; and, when abuse happens, take steps to support the child by liaising with the Women and Children Coordinators at the Shehia level. The paralegals are also expected to provide monthly reports to the ZLSC and follow up on cases in which parents do not wish to report the violations.
Challenges: Systematic Follow Up & Mentoring Paralegals
The evaluation found that the training of paralegals has been implemented as planned. It is a two-year training course and participants are given a certificate. There is, however, no systematic follow-up or mentoring of the paralegals after the training and there is no data on how they use their skills to help children.
Challenges: Children with Disabilities & Accessing Justice
In many developing countries, development cooperation programmes in general, and child rights programmes in particular, are not yet inclusive of disability aspects. Disability organisations are weak and often excluded from the mainstream CSO and child rights arena. Nevertheless, the awareness of the vulnerability of children with disabilities has increased among decision-makers as a result of the SC support and the targeted 283 youth with disabilities are more aware of their rights now. Accessing justice is however a huge problem for children with disabilities and their families. They often do not have legal capacity and in many communities children with disabilities are still hidden.
One Stop Centres
The six one stop centres (OSC) were established to offer support to any child or adult who is physically and sexually abused in any way. Each OSC is expected to offer the following services to survivors of all forms of abuse: Medical services by health professionals who include a medical doctor; Reporting of the case to police officers; and psychosocial counselling provided by a social worker. The centres were expected to reduce travelling costs/time for victims, ensure quick access to all the needed services, and reduce the number of interrogations (retraumatising victims – especially children). The centres are placed in health centres to have easy access to medical staff. Special rooms have been established for the police and the social welfare officer.
The police officer in the centre is not trained on how to interact with children and their parents in cases of sexual abuse. Sometimes questions are only posed to the parents. The one stop-centre is sometimes used as a threat to get compensation. The police investigation of the alleged crime must be undertaken in the district where the crime was committed. This means that victims still need to be interrogated twice by the police. The police at the OSC merely issue a report which is needed for the medical examinations to be performed. The police officers are sometimes out of the one-stop-centre office when called to other duties. When they are absent the doctor and social worker cannot proceed with cases. There is no follow up of the victims after the visit and no assistance provided to get in touch with legal aid services.
Challenge: Medical Examination
The medical examination also includes an interrogation. There seem to be poor routines for evidence gathering. The doctors are rarely available when they are needed. There is no budget for overtime or travelling of the doctor outside office hours. The doctors are sometimes asked by parents to perform virginity tests on their daughters, which they accept to do as they have not been informed otherwise. The social workers are only occasionally present in the one-stop centre. The coordinators from the Department typically support 2-3 one-stop centres. Even when they are present, the services have poor quality due to limited counselling skills. There has been no capacity development apart from SC funded training and no supplies for the running of the centres (stationary, medical examination tools, evidence bags, toys for children, etc.).
Recommendations for Implementing NGOs