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Handbook on Juvenile Law in Zambia

On August 6, 2014 the Center for Law and Justice and Cornell Law School's Avon Global Center for Women and Justice and International Human Rights Clinic released a new handbook for judicial officers and legal practitioners on juvenile law in Zambia. This new publication, Handbook on Juvenile Law in Zambia, is the first-ever practice guide on Zambian juvenile law. 

Zambia's domestic laws grant children and young people special legal protection, yet many remain vulnerable and are unable to access the protection to which they are entitled. Magistrates, prosecutors, and legal practitioners representing juveniles grapple with enormous backlogs, lack research capacity, and do not have access to statutory updates or relevant case law. As a result, juveniles in contact with the law, including child victims of abuse, are denied justice. This Handbook addresses this gap by providing a compilation and analysis of Zambian juvenile law, the law governing juveniles who come into contact with the law as defendants, witnesses, or victims.

The Handbook aims to function as a practice guide for judicial officials and legal practitioners who work in the area of juvenile law. It addresses a range of issues from the constitutional, statutory, and human rights framework of juvenile law, special issues that arise in cases of child sexual abuse, and procedural protections for juvenile witnesses. In his foreword to the new publication, Mumba Mailila, Attorney General of Zambia, wrote, "This handbook serves as a reminder that legal practitioners, judicial officers, and citizens alike are responsible for protecting the rights of juveniles. "He urged these groups to "make frequent use of this handbook" in order to "help ensure that juveniles in Zambia are able to access justice through the courts."

"Judges, magistrates, prosecutors, and lawyers have a range of tools at their disposal to protect the rights of juveniles," Liz Brundige, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law at Cornell and Executive Director of the Avon Global Center, explained."For example, international law standards counsel against juvenile detention while a new Zambian statute enables magistrates to issue orders of protection that shield juveniles from abuse. Understanding and applying these tools is critical to ensuring that all children and young people have meaningful access to justice."

The Handbook was launched at an event in Lusaka, Zambia, which included a panel of Zambian juvenile law experts, moderated by Cornell Law School Professor Muna Ndulo. The panelists reflected on the handbook's insights and discussed strategies for addressing the challenges that prevent juveniles from accessing justice through the courts.