Initial Tanzania Report to the African Committee of Experts on the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Executive Summary

Tanzania ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) in March 2003. This is its initial report on the implementation of the charter submitted to the African Committee of Experts according to Article 43. The report outlines the measures that have been taken since 2003 to effect the provisions of the ACRWC. It also details the progress made in the enjoyment of child rights.

Much has been done to ensure implementation of the ACRWC since it was ratified in March 2003. In April 2003, the Government ratified the two Optional Protocols to the CRC on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, and the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. Tanzania has been strengthening the legislative framework for children through ongoing consultative processes with the aim of developing a comprehensive Children’s Act and progress has been made towards developing a White Paper. Mechanisms for coordinating the implementation of the Charter have begun through a process to establish a national coordinating body. Dissemination of the Charter has been carried out by the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children (MCDGC) in Tanzania Mainland and Ministry of Labour, Youth, Women and Children Development in Zanzibar (MLYWCD) and NGOs.

Other progress includes: the integration of children’s concerns and vulnerabilities as central issues within the broader national development frameworks that guide national policy development and programmes; the development of a number of national policies, cross-sectoral strategies, and action plans in critical areas of concern for children (including around HIV and AIDS and orphans); policy level decisions that have had a significant impact on children’s rights and well-being (such as the abolition of primary school fees, and the enactment of improved legislation such as the Employment and Labour Relations Act of 2004). Policies and strategies involving children’s wellbeing have involved children through their Junior Council of the United Republic of Tanzania.

The Sexual Offences Act has been revised to broaden the range of offences, give longer punishment to perpetrators of sexual crimes, and to allow children under 18 to be tried in camera. However, child abuse is not specifically defined under these laws; compulsory reporting is not provided for, and the institution or body responsible for appropriate interventions in child abuse cases is not clearly defined.

There have been legislative efforts to protect children from hazardous work and from the worst forms of child labour. The Time Bound Programme aims at combating the worst forms of child labour and has had some success in withdrawing children from prostitution (for example) and providing them with suitable alternatives. There are currently efforts in place to develop the Social Welfare Policy in order to streamline welfare service delivery in the country.

There is still much work to be done, however, before the rights of all children in Tanzania - particularly the poorest and most vulnerable - are guaranteed. Partial and anecdotal evidence suggest serious and widespread problems of neglect, violence, abuse and exploitation of children, and efforts to protect Tanzanian children fall far short of what is required by the ACWRC. Although measures have been put in place to address some of these issues, on the whole, appropriate mechanisms for containing or preventing abuse of children are insufficient and local level governance has largely failed to ensure that children are protected from abuse. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has been criminalized since 1998, but still takes place. Corporal punishment is institutionalized in both schools (where its application is regulated) and the criminal justice system as a legal punishment for children.

Legislative changes are also insufficient, for example the diverse legal definitions of the child need to be consolidated to provide a uniform definition as indicated in article 2 of the charter. Discrimatory laws such as the patlineal laws of succession and inheritance need to be amended in compliance with the right of freedom to thoughts, conscience and religion.
The marriage laws need to be revised to protect girl children. More needs to be done to protect young offenders from imprisonment with adult prisoners, and to build capacity for effective probation services for juvenile offenders.

Although infant and child mortality has shown considerable improvement in the last five years, there is still a long way before child’s right to survival and development can be guaranteed. 250,000 children die each year from preventable illnesses with 80 per cent of deaths occurring at home. The leading causes of under-five mortality are, in decreasing order of importance, malaria, anaemia, pneumonia, prenatal conditions, diarrhea and HIV/AIDS. Malnutrition is an underlying cause of most deaths. More needs to be done to promote birth registration, currently reaching only 19 per cent of children. Most health services are not user friendly to young people especially in the area of reproductive health.

Although primary education enrolment has surged to around 95 per cent since the abolition of school fees, retention and attendance figures are lower. In addition, Tanzania still has one of the lowest secondary school rates in Africa (around 10 per cent).

Social security schemes coverage is still limited to those in formal employment, though the Government is looking into adopting a National Social Protection framework with a wider coverage.

Tanzanian law ensures the protection of children refugees, and provides for reunion with their family and their right to primary education, health and other social services. With regards to children in armed conflict Tanzania does not provide for conscription into the armed forces and discourages such recruitment in its territory.

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