Research Article - Current Pediatric Research (2023) Volume 27, Issue 7
Increase of children delinquency in the major cities of Tanzania vis-a-vis protection of their rights.
Emanuel P Mallya*
- Corresponding Author:
- Emanuel P Mallya
Department of Constitutional and Administrative Law, Law of the Child, Mzumbe University Main Campus, Morogoro, Tanzania
Received: 28 June, 2023, Manuscript No. AAJCP-23-105028; Editor assigned: 30 June, 2023, Pre QC No. AAJCP-23-105028(PQ); Reviewed: 14 July, 2023, QC No. AAJCP-23-105028; Revised: 21 July, 2023, Manuscript No. AAJCP-23-105028(R); Published: 31 July, 2023, DOI:10.35841/0971-9032.27.07.1938-1944.
There is currently observed increase of illegal conducts committed by children in major cities of Tanzania such as Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Mbeya, Dodoma, Morogoro etc. These conducts are reported to involve harm and serious injuries to the victims who some of them has suffered permanent disabilities. This Article argues that this increase denotes failure of the community to take proper care and raise children in good and acceptable manner. Children need not only proper care in their childhood, but also extra care at their adolescence stage. This age is chaotic and moral derogations have now shown great negative impacts.
It is time to find alternative ways to deal with the so called ‘Tatu Mzuka’ and ‘Panya Road’ who are in most cases adolescent children, than locking them up in apprehended and juvenile prisons where their rights under municipal, regional and international laws are highly infringed. These places in most cases do not prepare these adolescents for their positive return to the society but rather distorts their psychology and moral wellbeing. Before raising cries on infringement of child rights in apprehended, there is a need to treat them morally, psychologically and impart patriotism to them before finding themselves in conflict with the law.
This abstract examines the alarming increase in children delinquency within major cities of Tanzania, exploring the relationship between this trend and the inadequate protection of their rights. Drawing on psychological and behavioral perspectives, the study delves into the potential factors contributing to the rise in delinquency, such as socio-economic disparities, family dysfunction, and limited access to quality education and healthcare.
Child, Protection, Rights, Delinquency, Illegal, Legal officer, Custody
Western civilizations have had great impacts to most of African cultural values. Most of people in African countries have abandoned their culture in favor of modernity. This modern kind of life has left morality at detriment, and modern children are raised in a manner which they are dependent to their parents, and entrepreneurship skills are lacking to most people in the current generation. This is why when parents dies or becomes incapacitated most of youths resort to illegal behaviors instead of finding alternative ways to accommodate their families and themselves. In Tanzania, following economic hardships, some teenagers in major cities has formed illegal groups to robe from people, while calling themselves Panya Road, Tatu Mzuka etc.
They use force and weapons in robbery, which has been reported to cause deaths to citizens and some, are seriously injured, even causing permanent disabilities. In the last quarter of 2022 to the first quarter of 2023, there have been reported several incidences of the alleged groups of teenagers robbing, injuring and killing citizens, using traditional weapons such as Swords, axes, bunts and other sharp instruments in major cities more especially in Arusha and Dar es Salaam. The legal units have done their jobs in apprehending the suspects and their alleged sponsors pending legal actions in respective courts (For minors, they are taken to juvenile courts and adults are taken to ordinary criminal courts for trial). In legal protection, there are many outcries of violation of rights of detainees especially children.
Rights of detained minors are enshrined in the CRC, ICCPR, and ACRWC, Beijing rules and the LCA as well as the LC juvenile court procedure rules. The convention on the rights of the child, adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by general assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989 and entry into force 2 September 1990, in accordance with article 49; the international convention on civil and political rights, united nations general assembly resolution 2200A (XXI), 16 December 1966, in force 23 March 1976; The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Child (ACRWC) adopted by the Organization of African Unity (OAU, now AU) in July 1990; and the law of the child act of 2009 (Cap. 13 R.E 2019) as well as law of the child (juvenile court procedure) rules G.N No. 182 of 2016, respectively. These rights are in most cases infringed and many scholars have addressed that challenge.
This article in particular considers the reasons for the rapid increase of children delinquency in the major cities, and ways to address this challenge alternative to detaining these teenagers in apprehended and prisons where their rights are in most cases infringed and abused, as well as measures to be taken to help youths to avoid illegal behaviors.
Legal framework on the protection of the rights of delinquent children
From 1990’s there have been noticed developments in national and sectoral policies aiming at promoting child rights and welfare (Tanzania child rights forum (2013) Tanzania child rights status report). In so doing, various international instruments have received comity by Tanzania through ratification. The major being the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its two protocols which Tanzania ratified on July 10, 1991. This convention and other international instruments have been a guide to Tanzania towards enacting its municipal laws.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) 1989: This convention (the convention on the rights of the child, with a preamble and 54 articles was adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989 and entry into force 2 September 1990, in accordance with article 49) is the general international instrument catering for the rights of the child. Almost every important right entitled to a child is stipulated therein and it allows them to have full participation in matters affecting their welfare. It provides protection against discrimination and calls upon member state to ensure children are protected in every environment .
Under this convention, child rights are comprehensively compiled in specific manner and including all categories of recognized rights in traditional perspective, politically and civil rights. Also the same covers economic, cultural and social rights inter alia (A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Master of Laws (LLM) in constitutional and administrative law of Mzumbe university, 2016 at page 27) . A child under the convention is defined to mean a person aged below 18 years unless otherwise under municipal law majority is provided to be achieved earlier. Hence the convention recognizes the national laws which provides for acquisition of majority age below 18 years.
Specifically on the rights of the detained child under apprehend, the convention prohibits subjection of a child into inhuman or any treatment degrading or punishment. When a child is detained and placed behind the bars, the convention requires the municipal laws on protection of child rights and juvenile justice be adhered to and such other measures be taken first before resorting to detention. Detaining a child under the convention is required to be last resort, and the same should be of shorter period as much as practicable. The convention inter alia requires treatment of a child detained be in humanity and protection and respect to dignity inherent to a child be adhered. The child detained has to be separated from adults unless the surrounding circumstances are to the effect that it is to the best interest of the child be combined to adults or the adult is the child’s relative. A detained child under the convention is entitled to access to legal services for example an advocate, and the matter be decided by an appropriate and competent judicial body which is impartial and independent .
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is in place to promote and protect civil and political rights as deriving from inherent dignity of the human person. The covenant prohibits all forms of torture, inhuman and degrading treatments and punishments thereof, to all persons including children in legal protection. In relation to detained children the covenant under Article 10(2) (b) requires juveniles be separated from adults and their matter be determined speedily as practicable. This covenant reiterates the provisions of the CRC and they are to the same effect as the provisions of the CRC.
The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Child (ACRWC): Specific regional treaty in respect of the rights of the child is only found in African Continent. The charter was adopted by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in July 1990. The charter was mainly for providing in specific terms comprehensively mechanisms for protecting and promoting rights of children and their welfare at the African continent.
Just as in the CRC, the charter defines a child to mean a person under the age of 18 years. Unlike the CRC, the ACRWC does not give a room for recognition of majority age below the age of 18 years. On the protection of the child against torture and abuse, it prohibits all forms of torture, inhuman and degrading treatments to the child in respect of the child’s physical or mental condition. The charter calls for the state parties to establish special monitoring units for provision of necessary support to the child as well as persons taking care of the child. These units nevertheless are required under the charter to prevent abuse of child rights through identifying, making reports on referral investigation about treatment of children and following up all instances of alleged abuse of child rights.
In relation to juvenile justice and children detained in legal protection, children in conflict with penal law should be specially treated in such a manner which conforms with the sense of dignity of the respective child, and his/her human rights should be respected. The charter further requires detained juveniles be separated from adults. Also other rights of a child accused of breaching penal law are provided such as right to presumption of innocence, right to prompt information on the charges against him in understandable language to the child, right to legal representation and assistance and right to have the matter decided speedily by an impartial and independent judicial body. Furthermore, the trial against the child is under the charter required to be held in camera.
Committee on the Rights of Child (CRC): Special mechanisms in monitoring human rights by the United Nations works under bounds of treaty bodies which are established in instruments core to human rights. In traditional perspective treaty bodies are for experts which works independently, and these experts are selected and elected inter alia from among the nationals of the states which are party to the human rights treat respectively. In protecting children, the committee is in operation in mechanisms which monitors reporting by states making inquiries and procedures for communication.
An African committee of experts on the rights and welfare of the child: This body comprises 11 moral standing members who are impartial, competent and integrated in child welfare and rights matters. The committee is mandated to call for state parties through the general secretary submit reports explaining measures undertaken in making sure that the provisions of the charter are in effect. These reports are required to be submitted in every three years by state parties. The charter empowers the committee to receive such communications from persons, groups and nongovernmental organizations on any allegation in respect of the rights and welfare of the child being violated. The charter also empowers the committee to inquire and investigate violation of the rights of children and make preparations as to the report in that respect, and proceed to recommend on the best practices. All these can be done by the committee under its own motion.
Domestic protection of rights of delinquent children the law of the child act
In 2009 this act was enacted to have child’s rights protected specifically. It is the law which was specifically enacted for protection of the child, to reform and consolidate laws relating to children, stipulate rights of a child, protect and maintain the welfare of a child with a view to giving effect to international and regional conventions on the rights of a child.
Construction of the child under the act means a person below the age of 18 years. The Act under section 13 prohibits a child from being subjected to torture or inhuman treatment which degrades his dignity. Hence even if a child is in conflict with the law and he is detained in legal protection, treatment of such a child must be in conformity with the law.
In relation to children in conflict with the law, the act enshrines comprehensive provisions to that effect. Section 101 requires an apprehended minor be released on bail if he cannot be arraigned in court immediately or does not fall within specified exceptions under paragraph (a, b, and c) of the same section. Section 102 expressly requires separation of detained child from associating with adults on the exception if the adult is the child’s relative. This provision conforms to the requirement of several international instruments discussed in this chapter which requires the same. Having the law providing for something is one thing and its implementation is another thing. Various studies shows that most of station house does not have separate cells for children, then how this provision will be complied with if there are no infrastructures for the same?
The law further establishes juvenile court to deal with juvenile matters under section 97. Section 98(3) requires juvenile matters be heard in a different place than the ordinary place where cases are heard. This is for privacy of the child and the law in effect to have matters of children heard in camera.
Law of the child (juvenile court procedure) rules
These are the rules to establish a uniform practice and procedures for the juvenile courts of the mainland Tanzania and to assure the rights of the child under the law of the child act are protected. The rules under rule 23 provides for conditions under which a child may be arrested. Sub rule (3) of the same rule requires for immediate notification to parents or guardian of the child as early as practicable after apprehension of the child. Rule 28 is to the same effect on issues on bail as observed under other laws in this chapter. In the same manner, rule 29(1) (b) requires that remanding a child be a decision of last resort, and the same be of shorter period as practicable. This is taken into account knowing that the living environment in legal protection is not friendly to the welfare of the child.
Interestingly, rule 29(9) requires that where a child is remanded into custody, he shall be held separately from adults, and receive care, protection and all necessary individual social, educational, vocational, psychological, medical and physical assistance that he may require in view of his age, gender, disability, health status and personal circumstances. All these are in place to have the best interest of the child saved and to conform to the leading international instruments on protection of the rights and welfare of the child. The main issue remains in implementation of the same. Also infrastructures to allow these provisions to be effected are lacking and this raises the question of observance of these requirements while the child is under apprehended.
Domestic institutions social welfare
This is an institution responsible for social issues related to families and care of children and gender issues. Under the law of the child, social welfare officers are persons serving the government with legal obligations to ensure wellbeing of children and their rights are protected. These officers are duty bound to take steps to protect children from harm in all environments. This means they are charged with duty to protect even detained children under legal protection to ensure that the environment they are living in is fit for their welfare and conforms to their needs according to their conditions and age. This is why the LCA imposes an obligation to social welfare officers when necessary determine a suitable place where the child will be safe. But the authorities have been using discretional powers conferred to them by the law to disallow release of the child on bail if the same will obstruct justice or investigation. This causes children to keep on suffering in legal protection and most of them get out of the premises psychologically, mentally and physically affected.
Among the duties imposed upon the officer is to conduct investigation on the committed offences and suspected allegations of commission or intention to commit offences, and proceed to arrest and apprehend the suspects. The legal officer are also duty bound to perform the same duties in respect of child rights abusers. The law also empowers them to charge persons alleged of child abuse issues ad proceed to make application for summons and search warrants from a magistrate and proceed to prosecute child abuse perpetrators.
Despite of all these duties towards protection of child rights, legal officers are the most complained persons for abuse of child rights while in apprehended. They often torture them for confession and mix them with adults. This is what brought the question of assessing implementation of the law relating to protection of the rights and welfare of the child while in legal protection.
Courts of law
In child related issues, court means juvenile court, primary, district, resident and high court. Unlike other two main organs of the state, courts are vested with absolute powers and jurisdiction to deal with matters related to adjudication and dispensation of justice. The most relevant court under this study is the designated juvenile court. This is the outmost court with jurisdiction with juvenile matters. Section 4(2) of the LCA requires that in determining children matters, the best interest of the child be the foremost consideration. Hence in determining even bail issues, the court should direct its focus in the best interest and welfare of the child. This is also reiterated under rule 29(1) (a and b) of the rules.
Courts are empowered to give orders upon application by the social welfare officer for removal of a child in any place or environment where the rights and welfare of the child is in danger. Through these powers, the court may order release of a detained child on bail on the reasons that the custody has no separate facility for detainment of children. Also the same may be done where it is observed that a child is being tortured or his rights are not observed. These powers have been rarely observed and exercised by the courts and in most cases for children with special needs. This also calls in question the effectiveness of the courts in protecting the rights and welfare of the children detained under legal protection.
The most violated rights of delinquent children the right to be separated from adults
This right is reiterated in almost all legal instruments analyzed above. But its adherence has proved problematic. But frankly, this right cannot be achieved if our officer’s facilities are short of special cells for detention of children. When children are mixed with adults they engage into dangerous conversation with adults, and they sometimes live in fear hence affecting their psychology. The study conducted by commission for human rights and good Governance in Tanzania, shows that in some station house juvenile were either detained in same cells with adults or were detained in offices or corridors. Other station house boys were kept in women cells rather than mixing them with men.
This shows that some of important rights denied to children such as the right to be separated from adults, are not denied deliberately, but lack of infrastructures and facilities to have these laws complied with are lacking. Hence legal officers consider it fit to use other means necessary to indirectly comply with these law.
It is true that the situation of juvenile should assess their specific needs, status and uncommon prerequisites as per their respective ages, identity, sex and kind of offence and mental and physical wellbeing and which guarantee their security from harmful impacts and hazard. This is why international, regional and domestic instruments require delinquent children being distinctly treated. Authorities must regard the personality and needs of a child. Their treatment should focus on rehabilitating them and assist them to become good persons. All these will be attained if there are environments to have this facts attained. Lack of special facilities affect children and mostly they suffer moral and psychological effects when especially they are associated with adults in apprehended.
Right to be treated with humanity and protection of dignity
The above analysis of the legal framework observed that among of the most emphasized rights is the right to be treated with humanity and protection of dignity. There is currently observed a trend where delinquent children especially who are found in gang robberies (Panya Roads, Tatu Mzuka etc) being subjected to torture in the course of apprehending them or after being arraigned in station house. During interrogations, torture is mostly common to force them to confess or mention their sponsors and whereabouts of their fellows and alleged proceeds of crime.
Despite of the fact that there are many serious effects caused to victims by these delinquents, it should not be forgotten that children does not breach the law deliberately, but restrictions in opportunities in respect of their development forces them to do so. And these opportunities become even tighter when they are held under illegal justice system. Children are among vulnerable groups who are to be prevented from possible risks including those which may face them while in legal protection. The CRC requires detention of a child be a matter of last resort, and the same should be of shorter period as much as practicable. This was not stated by an accident, the law recognizes vulnerability of children. Everyone hates these illegal behaviors committed by these delinquents, but the society should priory consider that children are always victims of abuse and neglect. Some of parents raise them negligently and parenting is poor. This is sometimes caused by economic hardships which cause children to engage in illegal behavior .
Before harming them with stones and other instruments when they apprehend them robbing, the society in general have to recognize the fact that having many children delinquents is not a success, but rather it is a proof of failure by the society to create favourable and preventive environment for better rising of children. Hence holding them under detention is just a matter of excluding them from the general public rather than rehabilitating them to become good persons. This is because the environment they are kept while in legal protection exposes them in more risks than helping them to change.
During their apprehension by legal officers, there is witnessed excessive use of force and even when they were arraigned in legal protection they were still tortured to provide information on whereabouts of the alleged stolen properties and their fellow culprits (Various media reported tortures to these children where some of them were seriously injured and some acquired permanent disabilities. This is because they were treated not as suspects but as criminals. This is a clear contravention of the right to presumption of innocence). This Article calls upon authorities to consider dignity of these children even though they engage in illegal acts.
Are these deficits denoting institutional failure?
The law of the child act empowers social welfare to ensure rights of children are protected. Social welfare officers are persons serving the government with legal obligations to ensure wellbeing of children and their rights are protected. These officers are duty bound to take steps to protect children from harm in all environments. This means they are charged with duty to protect even detained children under legal protection to ensure that the environment they are living in is fit for their welfare and conforms to their needs according to their conditions and age. This is why the LCA imposes an obligation to social welfare officers when necessary determine a suitable place where the child will be safe .
It is revealed that authorities have been using discretional powers conferred to them by the law to disallow release of the child on bail on the ground that the same will obstruct justice or investigation. This causes children to keep on suffering in legal protection and most of them get out of the premises psychologically, mentally and physically affected. It was also noticed that, visitations by social welfare officers and human rights officers in legal protection is very rare and even when they visit, their observation and recommendations are mostly not taken into account by the officers of station house. Following the fact that in most cases visitation days are often communicated to superiors of station house, hence the situation on the respective days tend to differ and children on that day are shifted to some plausible places where it will be deemed as their rights are protected.
In general, adherence to the laws providing for the rights of children while in custody has not reached satisfaction. There are still some challenges, but it seems that some are unavoidable due to lack of necessary facilities such as special detention cells for children. It is now the right time for human rights institution and activists to stand strong to convince the government to create suitable environment for protection of these rights. The commission for human rights and good governance in Tanzania plays a vital role in making follow ups and publishing various reports which reveal mistreatments facing children in police custodies, but this role is yet not effectively played because they have mandate to sue whenever they realize violation of human rights, but this is rarely done. They have powers also to submit to the government proposals explaining the problems and how the identified challenges may be tackled, but this is also rarely done .
It is true that, we may not speak of effective implementation of the laws protecting rights of children under legal protection, while there are no facilities to ensure children are separately kept so that they may enjoy privileges given to them by the law. If it is special treatment, how can this happen while children are kept in similar lock ups with adults? How can institutions responsible ensure special care of children while there are no facilities to separately keep them so that they can be specially treated while in there? How can we blame legal officer’s for placing children in places where their mental, physical and psychological health is in danger while there are no funds for special food, shelter and health services for children detained in custodies? This study notes that there is something to be dealt with before lamenting legal officer’s for some violations of child rights. Some lamentations may really go direct to them, things like inhuman and degrading treatments and torture, but not issues caused by lack of facilities.
Negated percept towards these groups has caused challenges in having their rights protected. The majority of the community when they hear about torture subjected to these teenagers they often remarks the popular saying statement by former Prime Minister of Tanzania, Hon. Mizengo Peter Pinda who said ‘Na Wapigwe tu’. This proves immaturity in protection of child rights. This also denotes that respective authorities have a lot to do in spreading awareness about protection of child rights in all environments. The Social Welfare and other NGOs’ should awake the society to place in the forefront best interest of the child, while recognizing that they are the tomorrow’s generation .
Alternatives for curbing the increase of children delinquency
Most of the reported scenes were for robbery. Most of the interrogated delinquents mention economic hardships as the major cause. As the community, before we throw stones to them, it is worth creating opportunities for them so that they can earn living. Entrepreneurial skills should be imparted to them so that they can be self-dependent. There is needed more of psychological and spiritual treatments than beating them around the streets. These acts distort their psychology and they are mentally affected. Most of them are not positively rehabilitated, but they become morally affected. There is a need to have these adolescents helped before they conflict the laws and find themselves in legal actions which are inevitable. Institutions dealing with human rights and social welfare should ensure that conditions of children meets the required standards and the acts of abandoning them are effectively dealt with .
This Article calls upon charitable organizations to consider the fate of the meandering street children. They need help before they organize themselves to form Panya Road or Tatu Mzuka Groups. The Government should also keep on strengthening strict legal actions for parents abandoning their children and those leaving them without proper care. Having collective efforts as society will easily curb these situations than leaving everything to law enforcers to work on where lamentations are often on protection of the rights .
First: There must be constructed special facilities for detention of children. This will help in conforming to domestic and international laws which requires inter alia children to be detained separately from adults. Section 102 of the Law of the Child Act requires juveniles to be distinctly held from adults while behind police bars. Also the CRC under article 37(c) requires the same that child detained has to be separated from adults unless the surrounding circumstances are to the effect that it is to the best interest of the child be combined to adults or the adult is the child’s relative. Also Article 17(2)(b) of the ACRWC imposes the same requirement charter further requires detained juveniles be separated from adults. In these facilities is where children will be specially treated and their rights can easily be observed while in this special cells. Children will be comfortable and the environment will not affect their mental, physical and psychological health.
Second: Responsible institution for protections of child rights and human rights in general must wake up and introduce special programs in legal protection to ensure child rights are not violated. These are duties imposed to them by the law which must diligently exercise by them. For example social welfare officers are required by the LCA to take steps to protect children from harm in all environments. This means they are charged with duty to protect even detained children under legal protection to ensure that the environment they are living in is fit for their welfare and conforms to their needs according to their conditions and age. This is why the LCA imposes an obligation to social welfare officers when necessary determine a suitable place where the child will be safe. When this duty is duly exercised, the condemned deficits may decrease.
Third: The general society must ensure that children are raised in an acceptable manner and they take duty to have care and educate them so that they can get rid of ignorance which is the major factor affecting their attitudes towards their engagement in illegal conducts. Children must be raised in environments caring their economic and social factors, because this study previously noted that some children are engaged in illegal conducts because of economic difficulties in their families. Their studies should focus in creating entrepreneurship background to them so that they can afford their living. Also civic education and religious education must be spread to make them patriots and fear committing crimes. All these are for the main purpose of ensuring that the society is free of juvenile delinquency.
By analyzing the interplay between psychological factors and the broader social context, this research highlights the urgency of strengthening child protection mechanisms to mitigate delinquency rates. The findings underscore the need for comprehensive interventions that prioritize the holistic wellbeing of Tanzanian children, ensuring their rights and fostering positive developmental outcomes.
Whether they are illegal or whatever, but protection of rights of children remains essential and compulsory. The current trend of children delinquency is alarming and the societies in general need to wake up to have in place collective efforts to help these delinquents, and other children so that they will not become illegal in future. Leaving everything to law enforcing bodies will not effectively curb the problem, for the environment in legal protection does not positively rehabilitate them. Before they are engulfed by legal teeth, background measures should be placed from family level to national lever to ensure a generation of peaceful people is created. Children must be taught of patriotism and obedience of the law from childhood so that it becomes part of their culture in future. This article concludes that, increase of children delinquency is failure of the whole society, and curbing this increase is the duty of the whole society.
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