The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says children incarcerated with adults are exposed to a high risk of violence and abuse as well as psychological or sexual abuse.
The UN agency said on Thursday, Feb. 24, that access to justice for children in Nigeria is still not a reality.
Peter Hawkins, the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria stated that vulnerable children rarely have access to child-friendly justice.
“In many cases, they are incarcerated with adults and therefore exposed to a high risk of violence and abuse, including psychological or sexual abuse,” Hawkins said.
To combat this problem, the European Union and UNICEF have joined efforts to improve child access to justice and support the provision of child protection services for 41,389 children in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.
The EU is contributing nearly $9.5 million to improve access to an adapted justice system, which can make a real difference in the lives of many vulnerable children in West Africa
In Nigeria, the focus will be on providing justice services and community rehabilitation and reintegration for children in conflict with the law, on the move and in street situations, such as Almajiri children and children forcibly returned to Nigeria from abroad.
The programme will also ensure that child survivors of violence, especially sexual violence, access justice services – including legal aid – for efficient processing of their case and prosecution of perpetrators.
“The European Union has a strong commitment to children’s rights – and has a proven track record in this area,” Samuela Isopi, Ambassador of the European Union to Nigeria and to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) stated.
The programme intends to partner with the Nigerian Government to make a strong difference in children’s lives.
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