Tanzania Constitution Review Commission incorporates children proposals

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Tanzania is currently in the process of putting together a new constitution. The Tanzania Commission for Constitution Review invited Children’s Councils’ members to present their recommendations.

Save the Children, in collaboration with implementing partners and Children’s Agenda members supported participation of children’s councils’ members in the constitutional review process including meeting the Constitution Review Commission and presenting their recommendations.

A series of consultations were conducted with children discussing and analyzing issues that they thought were crucial to be incorporated in the new constitution.  On 9 January 2013, Save the Children in collaboration with the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children (MCDGC) supported seven children’s councils’ members to meet and present their recommendations to five members of the Commission for Constitution Review. Children’s recommendations emanated from the children’s consultation meeting held on 8th December 2012 and organised by Save the Children in collaboration with the MCDGC, Junior Council of the United Republic of Tanzania and Children’s Councils’ members.

During the consultation meeting, 65 representatives of the Children’s Councils from twelve districts of Ruangwa, Lindi, Kilwa, Temeke, Kinondoni, Handeni, Magu, Same, Hai, Arusha, Shinyanga Urban and Rural identified issues and recommendations to be included in the new constitution.

Children’s Councils called upon the constitution to recognize children’s rights and responsibilities, including the rights of children with disabilities, and the role of children’s councils in the new constitution in order to expand protection of children in Tanzania by guaranteeing the right to be protected against violence, the right to participation, play, access to education,  health and nutrition,  identity, name and birth registration certificate, and prohibition of discrimination.

Furthermore the government through the new constitution should guarantee children’s representation in the Parliament, free birth certificates to all children, free health services,  establishment of a Commission for Children, an  independent ministry for children and protection of street children and most vulnerable children (MVC).

Also, they suggested that the new constitution should strengthen education system and eliminate policies, laws and traditional customary laws that breach children’s rights.       

On June 26, 2013, Save the Children, in collaboration with the Ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children, facilitated a second children’s review meeting on the draft constitution, attended by 83 children from children’s councils. The meeting aimed to provide opportunity to children’s councils to review the draft constitution and provide recommendations as per the Constitutional Review Commission’s guidelines.

The children appreciated to see that most of the issues presented to the commission were incorporated in the first draft of the new constitution.

Children’s rights were specified under Article 43 of the draft constitution. The draft mandates the government to establish a procedure for overseeing child rights in the country on the basis of the best interest of the child. The draft also takes the unprecedented step of making basic and secondary education a guaranteed right for every Tanzanian.

Currently the draft has incorporated inputs from the Constitutional Councils and a second draft is due to be submitted to the National Constituent Assembly for review and adoption.

If adopted, it would bring significant changes to the country, by improving and providing an enabling environment for advancing child rights in Tanzania. Save the Children continues to lobby through the Parliamentary Group on Nutrition, Food Security and Children’s Rights, and to protect Article 43 of the draft constitution.

Members of the Children’s Council in Ruangwa,  Lindi region during their planning meeting.