Key to Child Advocacy for Malawi Juveniles is Restorative Justice

Children in several nations around the globe do not enjoy basic protections of their due process interests when accused of a crime.  Often they sit in jail waiting for an initial hearing for years.  Child advocates can make a difference for them and their families.

Abigail K. Skeans, currently a 3L at Regent Law, is pursuing research in this area of law to protect children in various African nations.  An important aspect of her work has been to determine whether a program of reform for a juvenile law system in one African nation might also work effectively in the legal framework of another African nation.

Skeans worked on such a program to protect juveniles in Uganda, and this spring worked on a feasibility study to determine if the program being implemented in Uganda would also be feasible in Malawi.  She continued her work this summer on site in Malawi. Her work carries an expectation for policy recommendations for both practical legal development programs and legislative reform.  See her presentation here.

Some practical programs and documents might be beneficial in the Malawain context, her work hopes to accomplish several objectives. Some of those include:

1) developing an electronic child information tracking system in a nation that is largely without birth certificates for most children;

2) determining whether a restorative justice component and diversion programs coupled with an emphasis on plea bargaining in formal juvenile proceedings would be of assistance;

3) social service protections; and

4) providing legal protections for children in conflict with the law.

Protecting children around the globe is an important, but extremely challenging, objective. An attitude of family restoration and restorative justice can make a tremendous difference in the lives of children in Africa.

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