For the first time ever those working across Africa, in the interests of protecting children’s legal rights, are to be recognised at the annual African Legal Awards taking place in Johannesburg on September 4.
The Children’s Advocate Award, supported by the global charity Save the Children and Africa Legal and hosted by Legal Week/Law.com International, will recognise the incredible work being done (much of it pro bono) by many in the legal profession to protect children on the continent.
Africa Legal Chief Executive Scott Cowan, who is a member of Save the Children’s Africa Advisory Board, said the issues facing vulnerable children were almost always a consequence of a violation of their legal rights.
“Those working in the legal profession have the intellectual capital and access to resources to change unjust systems and defend the legal rights of some of the world’s most vulnerable children. The Children’s Advocate Award is about recognising the legacy this kind of legal work leaves and why it is important for everyone in the profession to sometimes take stock and remind themselves why they studied law.”
Cowan said an example was the recent case in South Africa of Miriam Ali vs The Minister of Home Affairs where lawyers took on the government to fight for the right of children born to foreign parents, many of them African migrants, to be recognised as citizens. Read more here
Save the Children South Africa’s Partnerships Manager, Dianne van der Tuin, said the legal community should not underestimate the role it could play in protecting the rights of vulnerable children.
“One way of becoming involved is to partner with Save the Children by supporting programmes like Children on the Move which protects the rights of migrant children and ensures they are able to benefit from safe, inclusive and sustainable systems.
“This could be by helping them access services and, following that, by enabling their acceptance and integration in communities.”
She said there were still substantial legislative gaps – like the Citizenship Act in South Africa – where legal input was needed to develop guidelines on how children’s rights could be protected.
“There is also a lack of congruency in the legal frameworks of different government departments which can make it impossible to find clarity of many issues impacting vulnerable children,” she said.
“Then there are issues like access to education and documentation. These are basic rights too often denied to migrant or undocumented children who have no access to resources to resolve their situations.”
Clare Sutherland, Director of the African Legal Awards said: "We are delighted to be working with Save the Children once again to highlight and support the fantastic work they are doing in Africa. We look forward to reading entries from the legal community and being able to recognise the meaningful work they are doing to help enrich the lives of children in Africa."
The Children’s Advocate Award is open to African law firms and in-house teams that are based in sub-Saharan Africa, networks/alliance and vendors that operate in Africa and international law firms with at least one office in sub-Saharan Africa.
The time period covered by entries should be the 12-18 months prior to the entry deadline.
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