Know Your Rights: What your parents ought to do for you

Children are entitled to love, protection and care from their parents. To this end, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) stipulates the modalities for caring for children. Article 19 of the ACWRC says that children have the right to stay with their parents whenever possible. Separation of a child from his/her parents should not be done unless it is in the best interests of the child.

If the child is separated from one or both parents, the ACRWC says that he/she still has the right to maintain a personal relationship and stay in touch on a regular basis. When it is not possible to stay in touch due to civic duty, the government is responsible for giving appropriate information to the child or member of the family about the whereabouts of the absent parent.

In case it is the child who has been held by the government, for instance, in custody, his/her parents have to be notified as soon as possible.

The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child stipulates what parents are supposed to do for their children.

Article 20 says that parents/guardians are mandated to act in the best interests of the child. Additionally, parents ought to secure affordable but suitable living conditions for the child’s development. At the same time, parents/guardians have to ensure that children are disciplined with humanity and in a dignified way. This means that punishments that are torturous, humiliating and might result in physical, psychological or emotional damage are prohibited.

In order to help parents carry out their duties effectively, article 20 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child says that the government must provide assistance. Such assistance can be given by distributing material assistance and supporting nutrition, health, education, clothing and housing programmes.

The Government also has to set up institutions and laws that provide for care of the children. In Rwanda, several government institutions have instituted child protection policies and laws. For instance, children are entitled to free and mandatory education, access to healthcare and protection from torture.

The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child also mandates governments to ensure that children who have working parents are given care services and facilities. Examples include early childhood development centres and childcare facilities at the workplace. 

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