South Africa: Judging Ubuntu and Africanisation of the Child Justice Act
from the article by Khunou Samuel Freddy on All Africa.com:
The attention for the child justice system in the new South Africa has not only been inspired by the new constitution-based rights of children in conflict with the law, but also international law and the general principles of ubuntu and jurisprudence of African traditional justice.
In compliance with the precepts of international law and the 1996 Constitution, the national parliament promulgated the Child Justice Act 75 of 2008 (CJA) to establish a criminal justice system for children.
The CJA also expands on and entrenches the principles of restorative justice. Previously in South Africa, the Children's Protection Act 25 of 1913 (CJ) was the embodiment of the trend towards child justice. This act permitted the presiding officer to decline to continue with a criminal trial against a child and to then commit the child to a government industrial school.
Restorative Justice Centre helps change Roman Dutch law:
from RJC's website:
....The Restorative Justice Centre entered as amicus curiae in Le Roux v Dey, represented by the Centre for Child Law. Their submissions argued the common law should be developed to include a procedural step requiring reasonable engagement before court proceedings can be lodged. This way attempts to apologise must be the first resort, that failing, court proceedings may then be implemented. This is particularly important in cases involving children, as they are still developing and will naturally make mistakes as they grow and develop. The submissions were largely successful.
Making sure no child offender is left behind
From the article by Glynnis Underhill in the Mail and Guardian Online:
South Africa had finally fallen in line with the trend of most other countries, including several in Africa, which, for many years, have had separate laws dealing with child offenders.
"The Child Justice Act is new. In South African law we have never previously had a separate law that sets out how to deal with child offenders," said Ann Skelton, director of the Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria and an authority on the subject.
"We have previously had to make do with the Criminal Procedure Act, which is the general criminal justice system for all offenders."
The Child Justice Act has established a criminal justice system for minors that expands on and entrenches the principles of restorative justice in the criminal justice system, Skelton said. It ensures children's responsibility and accountability for crimes they have committed. Skelton applauded the Act for placing an increased emphasis on the effective rehabilitation and reintegration of children to minimise the risk of them reoffending.
New Child Justice Act in South Africa
After six years of debate and reworking, the Child Justice Bill was signed into law by South African president Kgalema Motlanthe on 11 May 2009. In an effort to both humanize the juvenile justice system and to protect the rights of children in conflict with the law, the new legislation raises the minimum age of child offenders and provides for several diversion options.