Government has castigated the Dzamara family for using children as human shields in their march, describing the move as a gross violation of regional and international legal instruments that regulate the care and protection of minors.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira yesterday said by coercing children to participate in the illegal demonstration, the activists should be charged for violating the country’s Constitution, the United Nations Convention on the Rights and Welfare of Children (UNCRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children (ACRWC).
Minister Mupfumira said participation of children in any protests was against the best interest of the child and had long term physical and psychological repercussions on the minors.
“As such, the State has a responsibility to ensure that children’s rights are safeguarded,” she said. “The use of children in the protest violates Article 36 of the UNCRC, which provides for the protection of children from any form of exploitation, which includes being taken advantage of; in this case it is clear that the organisers of this protest took advantage of these children to get a sympathetic ear. Ubuntu and morality prohibits the use of children for adult gain.”
Said Chief Supt Nyathi: “The law is very clear. It is illegal for anyone to use children as shields in a demonstration. As police, we are conducting investigations into this incident.”
“Anything that revolves around children, the best interest of the child must always prevail,” he said.
“If seen that the best interests are being compromised or exposed to danger, then the law usually intervenes on their behalf. Usually it is done through the Children’s Court or the High Court. The High Court is the upper guardian of all children in Zimbabwe. You can sometimes find that the High Court can override the decisions of the parents in situations where it is shown that the parents are not acting properly on behalf of the children. The issue here is in a situation where there is a demonstration or a protest, why would one put minors on the frontline? What if there was a riotous incident, which involves teargas or high powered water canons?” herald