Inventory of fixtures, Actions and Challenges

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INVENTORY OF FIXTURES

The issue of child protection is closely related to ensuring the healthy development of children through the enjoyment of all their human rights. These involve in particular their access to basic social services such as health, education, nutrition, protection, environmental sustainability, etc. However, we observe that for various reasons, many children do not have access to these services due to poverty, not being registered at birth, emergency situations, neglect and abandonment, violence and abuse, trafficking and exploitation, the degradation of the family fabric, the erosion of traditional values of solidarity, disability, HIV and AIDS. Therefore, there is a new problem of taking care of these children who are known as vulnerable children. Those who fall in this category are generally all children who, because of the circumstances of their birth or of their immediate environment, are unable to meet their basic needs and are likely to be victims of violence, exploitation, abuse and discrimination.
More specifically, it is children who are disabled, abandoned, orphaned, refugees, abused, in the street, in distress, in emergency situations, in conflict with the law or from marginalized populations, victims of neglect, abuse, exploitation and trafficking ...
In view of the improvement of knowledge and an overview of the vulnerability of children, studies and surveys have been made with the support of bilateral and multilateral partners.
Thus, under studies carried out, we can cite amongst others:
- The study on "Street children in Cameroon: the surprise action" carried out in Maroua, Garoua, Ngaoundéré, Douala and Yaounde by Marie Therese MENGUE - August 2003;
- The study of "Sexual exploitation of children in Cameroon: Yaounde, Douala, Kribi, Limbe, Ngaoundéré" by Frederick BOURSIN, April 2004;
- Trafficking in children for labour exploitation in Cameroon, ILO / IPEC / LUTRENA, 2005;
- Poverty and disparities among children in Cameroon (2009), information on the author;
- Social budgeting in Cameroon, Isaac Tamba, 2010.
National enquiries made on the situation of vulnerable children include:

  • The social dashboard on the situation of children and women (1999, 2004 and 2009);
  • The 3rd General Census of Population and Housing, 2010;
  • The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 1, 2 and 3);
  • The Cameroonian Household Survey (ECAM I and ECAM II ECAM III);
  • The National Report on Child Labour (2008).

The data from these studies and surveys illustrate that:

  • Of every 2 Cameroonians,  1 is less than 18 years old;
  • 40% of the population lives in poverty;
  • The net enrollment rate is 22% in preschool, 80% of primary and 38% secondary;
  • The school dropout rate is 44%;
  • 89% of the urban population has access to drinking water against 49% in rural areas;
  • The malnutrition rate is 32% in children under 5 years;
  • 30% of births of children under 5 years is not recorded;
  • 27 % of children aged 5 to 17 years are compelled to do labour that should be abolished;
  • Only 16.73% identified OVC received care.

These studies and surveys have also highlighted the existence of certain phenomena such as: violence against children, abandonment, neglect, child abuse, juvenile delinquency, street children, prostitution amongst young girls, and the emergence of others such as traffic and the sale of children.
They show a significant gap between the daily lives of many children (revealing unsatisfied needs and expectations) and the political will repeatedly declared and evidenced by commitments at the national and international level.

A POLITICAL MANIFESTO

In Cameroon, the protection of children in all aspects necessary for their development and growth remains an ongoing concern of the Government and is fully in line with the political thought of the President of the Republic and Head of State, His Excellency Paul Biya as expressed in his book "Communal Liberalism" published in 1987, in which he says:
It behoves us to worksothatthe children (...) of this country cease to die likeorphans or destitutes, and thatgrowth, the result of a collective effort, canensuregreater protection »
In terms of general policy,the Framework Document for the National Policy of Integrated Development of the Young Child approved in 2008, although limited to early childhood (0-08 years), is now the only reference document as far as orientation for the holistic protection child is concerned.

This document sets the overall objective of ensuring the survival and full development of girls and boys of Cameroon from conception to the age of eight years, in all aspects (psych-somotatic, socio-emotional, cognitive, moral and communicative ) through enlightenment, health, nutrition, protection, education, the quality of the physical, family, community and cultural environment.
This general objective is broken down into ten specific objectives, following the three strategic areas below:

  • Improving access and quality of basic social services essential necessary for the harmonious development of young children;
  • Improving the quality of life and environment of the young child;
  • Strengthening the institutional and strategic framework.

In addition, two main strategies for child protection are reflected in the organization of the Department of Social Protection of Children and are divided into: the promotion of children’s rights and safeguarding of the child:

  • The promotion of children's rights refers to the extension of the latter within the national community in the diversity of its component, the national mobilization in favour of human rights and the general and special protection of children against any infringement on their rights;
  • Safeguarding the child, for its part, refers to the management of early childhood, particularly through the provision of a substitute parent to an abandoned child or one with no known family, in the prevention and treatment of social maladjustment of the child.

CONCRETE ACTIONS

At the forefront of the Government's actions to deal with this situation it may be noted that Cameroon has ratified almost all legal instruments for the protection of children. The most important are:

  • The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols;
  • The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child;
  • The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women;
  • Convention No. 138 on the minimum age for employment;
  • Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour;
  • The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

In addition, Cameroon has always participated in various international meetings on the situation of the child. The Special Session of the General Assembly on children was held in New York in May 2002 and saw the participation of a Cameroonian delegation led by the Head of State, His Excellency Paul Biya.
In legal terms, the country has a pioneering legislative and regulatory framework for the protection of children's rights.
As follows:

  • The Constitution, in its preamble, guarantees the freedom and security to each individual, with a specific concern for the protection of children and youth.
  • In criminal matters, many provisions of the Penal Code may be referred to suppress cases of bodily or mental harm to the child. Section 350 of the Code entitled "offenses against the child" aggravates penalties when an offense is committed to the detriment of a child.
  • In social matters, the Labour Code prohibits forced or compulsory labour (Article 292 paragraph 3) and excludes the employment of children under 14 and their use in hazardous labour or that exceeding their power (art. 86 and 87). The said Code provides for sanctions against the perpetrators of these offenses (s.167). In addition, the Decree of 27 May 1969 on child labour prohibited and provides a list of types of work likely to corrupt the morals of children.
  • In civil matters, the Civil Code establishes the obligation between ascendants and descendants (art. 203), between the adopter and the adopted (art. 355), and parental authority (art. 371-387), all of which contribute to the prevention and suppression of trafficking and exploitation of children.
  • Special laws also contribute to making operational the policy against violence and exploitation of children. These are:

- Law No. 2005/015 of 29 December 2005 on the fight against trafficking and child trafficking repealed and replaced by Law No. 2011/024 of 14 December 2011 on the fight against smuggling and trafficking of persons;
- Ordinance No. 81/02 of 29 June 1981 on the organization of civil status and various provisions relating to the status of individuals as amended and supplemented by Law No. 2011/011du May 6, 2011. This Order provides for the signaling of a newborn child (art. 38), parental and custody of children born out of wedlock (art 47), support for children left in the care of an abandoned wife (art. 76);
- Law No. 97/12 of 10 January 1997 laying down the conditions for entry, stay and exit of foreigners in Cameroon and its implementing Decree No. 2000/286 of 12 October 2000 that requires parental consent for children for the issuance of a travel document.
At the institutional level, the Government has several departments in charge of ensuring the rights of the child. However, it is the Ministry of Social Affairs, which statutorily assignsthe social protection of vulnerable people among whom are children in need of special protection measures. This objective is pursued through an internal organization and services:
-  Creation of a Directorate of Social Protection of the Child and the functioning of ten Regional Delegations and 58 Departmental Delegations.
-  Existence of Operational Technical Unit: Social Services and Centres for Social Action.
-  Existence of many centres for the care and reception of young children, and the reeducation of socially maladjusted or delinquent children
- The creation in 1990 of a National Commission for Child Protection, Juvenile Delinquents and Abandoned Children.
The policy of child protection is supported by the active action of various national partners, Private Social NGOs and associations in the legal, health, education and psycho-social framework. It is important to note in this dynamic the plural action of the First Lady, Her Excellency Mrs. Chantal Biya, who through her charitable works such as African Synergy for the fight against AIDS and suffering, CERAC and the Foundation that bears her name, is involved in the development of the child.
In addition, many programmes and projects benefit the support from bilateral and multilateral partners like: UNICEF, the World Bank, Plan Cameroon, SOS Kinderdorf, ILO, Belgium, Italy, etc..

MAJOR CHALLENGES

In view of the problems currently plaguing the social protection of children in general and support for vulnerable children in particular, the main challenges faced by the country for their optimal development focus on:
-  The development of a national policy document of social protection of children,
-  The creation of a true national self-government coordination of interventions for child protection,
-  The availability of a dynamic national database on vulnerable children,
-   Strengthening the legal framework by the result of the process of adoption of draft law on each code and Child Protection Code of Persons and the Family;
-  Strengthening the institutional framework for the effective implementation of Decrees 2001/109/PM of 20 March 2001 establishing the organization and functioning of public institutions, supervision of minors and rehabilitation of socially maladjusted juveniles, and No. 2001/110/PM of 20 March 2001 establishing the organization and functioning of public institutions, supervision of young children in order to provide the country with enough structures for the supervision of vulnerable children
-  The result of the adoption of the Statute of Social Workers,
-  The increase in social personal and continuous strengthening of their technical capacity,
-  The culmination of the process of defining the national response standards framework for vulnerable children,
-  The increase in financial resources allocated to the social sector in general and Social Affairs in particular,
-  The continued implementation of the National Policy Framework Document for Integral Development of the Young Child
-  Strengthening the partnership by developing a number of projects and programmes for children and seeking partners for funding.

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