Know your Rights

We have developed and published easy-to-use guides to help you practically protect and advance children’s rights. Have a look!

ZEP and Children’s Rights: What You Should Know!

Are you a child of a Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) holder living in South Africa?

This booklet is designed to provide answers to questions about relevant documents and rights. For a deeper understanding of documentation for minors, we recommend the guide ‘How to Attain Documentation: A Comprehensive Manual for Acquiring Birth Certificates, Citizenship Papers, and Immigration Visas for Children in South Africa’.

You can easily find this valuable resource online by searching for its exact title.

Now available in isiNdebele and chiShona.

UNICEF, 2023. ‘Free and Safe to Protest: Policing of Assemblies Involving Children’

The Centre for Child Law (CCL) is delighted to announce the publication by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) of a paper titled “Free and Safe to Protest: Policing of Assemblies Involving Children”.

Stanley Malematja, an attorney at CCL and Professor Ann Skelton (former director of the CCL), Professor at the University of Pretoria’s Private Law Department, UNESCO Chair on Education in Africa and Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) formed part of the advisory group members who played a fundamental role in the production of the paper.

Children have been organising and acting to promote and defend their own rights and the rights of others, and there is documented evidence that they have been doing so since the 1880s. The paper articulates child rights in the context of policing assemblies involving children, framed against states’ more general obligations regarding children’s right to freedom of peaceful assembly (RFPA). Article 15 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) sets out the RFPA specifically for children. The paper, inter alia, covers, specific importance for children of exercising their RFPA as part of their overall development, and the particular challenges they face in doing so and recommendations for states to take into account before, during and after assemblies take place.

Access to Justice for Children in Conflict with the Law: Child Justice Act 75 of 2008 (CJA)

This booklet discusses the rights of children who are in conflict with the law and accused of committing offences and how they must be dealt with in terms of the Child Justice Act 75 of 2008 (CJA). The CJA provides for a child-specific approach to responding to these children and builds on section 28(1)(g) of the Constitution, which provides that:

“g. not to be detained except as a measure of last resort, in which case, in addition to the rights a child enjoys under sections 12 and 35, the child may be detained only for the shortest appropriate period of time, and has the right to be –

i. kept separately from detained persons over the age of 18 years; and

ii. treated in a manner, and kept in conditions, that take into account

the child’s age; …”

Furthermore, the CJA provides for the child justice system that ensures that the procedures followed when dealing with children in conflict with the law and accused of committing offences safeguard their interests.

National Summit on Harmful Sexual Behaviour in Children 2023

A 2016 nationally representative study on child abuse, neglect, and maltreatment in South Africa2 found that 35.4% of children had experienced some form of sexual abuse in their lifetime, with prevalence being slightly higher for boys (36.8%) than girls (33.9%). The forms of abuse differed across genders – girls reported more contact sexual abuse or being forced to engage in some form of sexual activity, while boys reported more non-contact abuse, such as unwanted exposure to sexual materials. Online sexual abuse is also on the rise in South Africa – the number of reports of suspected online child sexual exploitation and abuse (OCSEA) increased by 51% between 2017 and 20193.

How to Get Documented!

The South African Human Rights Commission (the Commission) and the Centre for Child Law (the Centre) bring you this simple, but comprehensive guide on documenting children in South Africa. Both the Commission and the Centre receive hundreds of requests for help with documenting children each year. This guide aims to compile what we have learnt about assisting children into one easy to use guide for parents, social workers, and even children themselves.

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