Parents in West Pokot county have been advised to take good care of their children during this festive season to protect them against getting into conflict with the law.
Speaking during the establishment of the Children Court Users Committee on Friday, Deputy Registrar of Kapenguria Law Courts Senior Resident Magistrate Lui Okwengu said it is during the festive season that most children engage in activities that if not well guided, may result in crime.
Okwengu called on parents to exercise their responsibilities to avoid their children being lured into bad company.
“As parents, we should be vigilant during this festive season and the long holidays ahead. This is usually a very delicate moment for our children for they can easily be recruited by criminals if not well monitored,” he said.
Meanwhile, Okwengu lauded the establishment of the children court users committee which advocates for children’s rights and welfare.
He noted that what was remaining was the establishment of a children’s court in Kapenguria dedicated to dealing with children’s matters only.
“This meeting is the first of its kind in West Pokot county and it is one which will set up the membership of the children’s court users committee. Going forth, we shall be having quarterly meetings to set up various structures designed at looking at the welfare of children in conflict with the law,” the magistrate stated.
He reiterated that all children are entitled to protection and care whether with or without being in contrast with the law.
Okwengu regretted that there are some far-flung areas of the county that have no children protection units, an issue that the committee will be tasked to address.
“At the moment there are certain aspects of children’s care that are not put in place for example a child in need of protection and care in areas like Alale and Sigor wards where they are no children’s protection units. As a committee we have to establish where these children need to be held before being brought to Kapenguria Law Courts or Kapenguria Children Protection Unit,” he explained.
He underscored the value of having a children’s court that will be exclusively dealing with children’s matters in a move to reduce the backlog of cases and also meet the required constitutional requirements which stipulate that children’s matters be dispensed within six months.
“We are trying to separate children from the open courts where adult suspects and accused persons are arraigned. Children’s issues should be secluded from the public,” the magistrate added.
The magistrate held that children are not supposed to be convicted and that is why the children court users committee and children court is very significant and there are arrangements for diversification to be adopted so that juvenile offenders are not placed in borstal institutions but instead returned to the community after counselling.