"We need to have a dream and a specific goal for children in 2017" - Custódio Duma, President of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH)
Maputo, December 2016 - Data from the Demographic and Health Survey (IDS) 2011 shows that in Mozambique child marriages affect one in two girls (48% of them between 20-24 years of age marry before the age of 18) and 10%, between 15-19 years of age, get married before the age of 15. Child marriages are one of the worst forms of violation of children's human rights, putting them at high risk of violence and disease, undermining a process of potential opportunities that girls should have. In addition to child marriages, HIV infection and school drop-out, which greatly affect girls, the early separation of parents, which in many cases leads to neglect of children, domestic and sexual violence, child labor and child prostitution exposes the majority of children in Mozambique at risk of violation of their rights.
The National Seminar on the Protection of Children from the perspective of Human Rights was held in Bilene. The event, co-organized by the Rede da Criança, Save the Children, UNICEF, Diakonia and the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), also explored issues such as the protection of children's rights in Mozambique, focusing on the implications of the principle of parent´s consent for marriages of bellow 18 years old boys and girls (no. 2, Article 30 of the Family Law -Law no. 10/2004, of 25 August). In the workshop it was discussed the role of different institutions (such as Attorney General's Office, National Institute of Social Action, Juvenile Court, Curators) in the protection of children. Other topics included: (i) food for children of separated parents and self-employed workers; Mozambican child protection system; Mechanisms for the protection and monitoring of the rights of the child with the participation of the child.
Commissioners of the National Human Rights Commission and seminar participants. Text and photo: Z. Isac Mundiara, Save the Children/2016.
Custódio Duma, President of National Human Rights Commission emphasized that Mozambique is a young country with many children, but we have many challenges regarding the rights of children; We will not be able to realize human rights while we have high rates of malnutrition, severe drought affecting thousands of families, child marriages, problems of quality access to health and education services, protection and integral development, psychosocial support, moral education of child. Therefore, it is my wish that if we end this session, we must have a specific goal for the children; We need to have a dream to achieve by the end of 2017 - Even small dream; we need to have a dream!
The government must intervene to protect the human rights of children - we must safeguard the rights of children on our agenda - said Nhabanga, Councilor of Bilene Municipal Village.
Meanwhile, the new Commissioner for Children, Dr Farida Mamade who was also present, began her presentation by thanking all Civil Society Organizations for the support and trust they place in her. Visibly excited, Farida in a nutshell said that we will together promote the well-being of our children.
Indeed, it is worth remembering that Save the Children and partners have been doing advocacy work that has been going on for years with the National Human Rights Commission for Establishment of Children´s desk. When Dra Farida was elected to become the first Children´s rights Commissioner, Save the Children send a letter of congratulations to her.
Manuel Victorino of the Save the Children Gaza Program, representing the provincial director of our Gaza program, stressed that it is in the interest of Save the Children to see all children survive, learn and be protected by 2030. And in this regard, it is worth that all efforts are made to have Mozambique ratify the Third United Nations Child Rights Convention Optional Protocol to safeguard the best interests of children, through allowing communication procedures to raise complains related realization of child rights.
Indeed, it is worth remembering that the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, at its First Ordinary Session held from 6 to 11 October 2014, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, examined the First Report of the Government of Mozambique and recommended the Mozambican State to consider the need to strengthen the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) role on monitoring implementation of child rights through establishment of children´s desk.
Therefore, the two-day event ended with a commitment to continue to work together in 2017, especially on advocacy for ratification of 3rd UN CRC Optional Protocol, in addition to close collaboration with Mozambican Civil Society Organizations in process of preparing the supplementary to be submitted on time to UN CRC Committee.
The National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) was established, in September 2012 to address the major challenges of protecting human rights in Mozambique. At the level of Civil Society the expectation regarding the work of the CNDH is very great on everything regarding the rights of the most vulnerable groups that are often violated in the name of cultural practices that in some cases are harmful the survival and development of the child.
The CNDH has a mandate to monitor and disseminate human rights actions. Citizens should address complaints in the event their rights are violated.