Zambia’s domestic laws recognize the vulnerability of children and grant them special legal protection. Despite this protective legal framework, many children remain vulnerable and are unable to access the protection entitled to them by law. Magistrates, who constitute the lower levels of the Zambian judiciary, and prosecutors grapple with enormous backlogs, lack research capacity, and do not have access to statutory updates or relevant case law. As a result, children in contact with the law, including the many young girls in Zambia who are victims of gender-based violence, remain unable to access justice through the courts.
The Center and Clinic are working with the Center for Law and Justice, a Zambian organization, to address this gap. In the spring 2014 semester, they will prepare a handbook that will include a compendium of Zambian juvenile law (understood as the law governing children in contact with the law) and that will function as a practice guide for juvenile law judges, magistrates, and advocates. Drawing upon legal resources and consultations with judges, magistrates, and legal practitioners, the handbook will address issues such as the constitutional, statutory, and human rights framework of juvenile law, special issues that arise in cases of child rape, and procedural protections for child victims and witnesses. Upon completion, the handbook will be distributed to magistrates, prosecutors, and others, and will be available as a free download on the internet. It will be launched at an event held in Zambia in the summer of 2014.