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Cross River unveils prosecution guidelines on violence against children, others

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In pursuance of appropriate standards to protect children, prosecution guidelines for handling cases involving children in conflict with the law, child victims and witnesses have been unveiled in Cross River State.

The state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Tanko Ashang, who disclosed the guidelines at the weekend while delivering a keynote address at a one-day workshop by the Ministry of Justice in partnership with United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), said: “The urgency of child protection cannot be over-emphasised as our children are becoming more endangered by the minute. Rising concerns about the security and safety of our children continue to plague the justice system.

“Before now, we reasoned that children were merely the future, but new realities demonstrate that our children are the very now – they are both the fruits of our journeys that we must currently enjoy and the seeds that we plant to ensure continuity.

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“This perspective will at least motivate us to put more stringent measures in place to create and sustain a more child-friendly legal system. Whether we find them as victims, as witnesses or in conflict with the law (child offenders), their fragility commands that matters relating to them must be handled with utmost caution and dexterity.

“It is because of these complexities that efforts of collaborations, such as the present ones, are highly commendable. It is crucial that we do all we can in our various ‘little’ ways to facilitate the speedy eradication of those factors that inhibit impeccable justice delivery on child matters, as prosecution is unarguably one of the most essential and delicate parts of administration of justice. As prosecutors therefore, we must always strive to bring justice in the most expedient, practical and sustainable means possible, bearing in mind that the welfare of the child is always paramount. To achieve this, we must develop our competence and integrity in response to the emerging trends in this regard.”

He said the guidelines would enable all actors to effectively employ best practices in enforcing and protecting the rights of the child at all stages of justice dispensation.

Meanwhile, Principal Counsel, Basic Rights Counsel Initiative, Mr. James Ibor, in a review of the guidelines, said: “The prosecution guidelines attempts to provide a comprehensive set of rules that promote international standards and best practices aimed at ensuring a justice system for children, designed to be rehabilitative and re-integrating as opposed to the old system that centred on punitive measures in tackling crimes.

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