OVERVIEW OF THE CHILD RIGHT ACT (2003)

The Children's Rights Act of 2003 extends the human rights bestowed to citizens in Nigeria's 1999 constitution to children.

6/17/2022 5 min read

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OVERVIEW OF THE CHILD RIGHT ACT (2003)

The Children's Rights Act of 2003 extends the human rights bestowed to citizens in Nigeria's 1999 constitution to children. This law was passed at the Federal level, and it is only effective if State assemblies also codify the law. The bill was first introduced in 2002, but did not pass because of opposition from the Supreme Council for Shari'a. The Act was officially passed into law in 2003 by Former President Chief Olusegun Obansanjo as the Children's Rights Act 2003, in large part because of the media pressure that national stakeholder and international organizations put on the National Assembly.

Child's Right Act (2003) is the law that guarantees the rights of all children in Nigeria. So far 24 out of 36 states of Nigeria have adopted the CRA as a state law. There are therefore twelve (12) states in Nigeria that are yet to adopt the CRA in their laws of the 36 states of the federation.

Children as defined by Child's Right Act (2003) is any person under the age of 18.

The Child’s Right Act mandates that when a child is concerned, their best interest is to take precedent. It goes on to state that the parent or legal guardian is obligated to fulfill the duty to give the child basic protection.

It specifies that the Article IV of Nigeria's 1999 constitution and any other federal law which details fundamental rights should be seen as being part of the act. This article details the rights, freedoms and responsibilities of children. It goes on to state specific rights for children including the right to: survival, a name, family life, private life, dignity, recreation, cultural activities, health services, and education.

The Child’s Right discusses the ways in which a child shall be protected. These include protection from child marriage as well as the punishments for the act to the adult parties involved. Other protections include: not being harmed (including being marked with tattoos) or from sexual violence, being shielded from exploitative labor, or being enlisted in any military operation.

It also lists the reasons when a child assessment order may be sought as well as the reasons and duration which emergency protection orders shall be given to a child. It is also made clear the obligations of a state government when it is disclosed to that institution that a child is being harmed. It also lists the reasons when a child assessment order may be sought as well as the reasons and duration which emergency protection orders shall be given to a child. It is also made clear the obligations of a state government when it is disclosed to that institution that a child is being harmed.

It indicates the circumstances in which a child shall be brought to court in order to determine if they need protection. This part also stipulates the type of person who shall be allowed to make such a decision using the guidelines detailed in this section

The part VI of the Act enumerates the ways and manner in which a court must proceed after a child assessment order is made.

Part VII allows for the court to use paternity tests in order to make decisions in civil proceedings when it is unclear who the parents of a child are.

Part VIII shows how decisions should be made about custody of a child. Part IX details who is allowed guardianship and the ways in which guardianship may be transferred from one adult to another over a child.

Part IX details who is allowed guardianship and the ways in which guardianship may be transferred from one adult to another over a child.

Part X establishes how a child becomes a ward of the court, that there may be payments required of a previous guardian for the “maintenance” of their child, and the rules regarding how a child may be released back into the custody of a guardian.

Part XI- outlines the circumstances in which a child may be fostered, the way in which an adult may apply to foster a child, and the rules the adult fostering the child must adhere to.

Part XII- requires that each state of Nigeria create a system for adoption services. This section also outlines the process of applying for adoption and stipulates that the person wishing to adopt a child must reside within the state that the child already lives.

Part XIII- creates a system of family courts with two levels, establishes a right to legal counsel for all children, and devises safe guards (such as the withholding of the child's name, school pictures or any identifying features) within a trial which are meant to protect the child.

Part XIV- mandates that every state creates a registry which shall track the names of the children being supervised as well as the names of the individual nannies or day care providers who are tasked with watching the children. This clause also grants the government the power to inspect any premise in which “child minding” occurs.

Part XV- outlines that the instances where a state's government is required to step in to protect the welfare of children.

Part XVI-XVIII - indicates the types of housing that may be established to house children: community homes (or housing for children who are under the care of the government or not), voluntary homes, and registered children's homes.

Part XIX- establishes that a minister may grant the inspection on children's homes for the reasons listed in the clause.

Part XX- grants children the right to privacy in the court system. This section also makes it clear that children are to be tried through the child justice system and not the courts where adults are tried. It's indicated that within the Nigerian Police Force, there must be individuals trained specifically to handle children. From a child's arrest to their treatment in an institution, this section outlines the procedures.

Part XXI- show the ways in which “supervision officers” are appointed as well as the duties of the specially appointed officers.

Part XXII- specifies that this act allows for the minister to create specific institutions meant to meet the needs of children. These centres include (but are not limited to): Children Residential Centres, Emergency Protection Centres, and a Children Correction Centres.

Part XXIII- creates the National Child Rights Implementation Committee which must consist of one representative from fourteen of Nigeria's government bodies. The function of the committee is to take actions which will lead to the observance of the act itself as well as other human rights treaties Nigeria has signed onto.

Part XXIV- is labeled as “miscellaneous” and touches on some of the legal implications any corporations may face for not following this act. This section also further defines terms.

NB: This article is not a legal advice, and under no circumstance should you take it as such. All information provided are for general purpose only. For information, please contact chamanlawfirm@gmail.com

WRITTEN BY CHAMAN LAW FIRM TEAM

EMAIL: chamanlawfirm@gmail.com

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