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Sudan: Regional Law on Children’s Rights Issued

(Apr. 14, 2009) On April 9, 2009, it was reported that the President of the Government of Southern Sudan (an autonomous region within Sudan), Salva Kiir, officially launched the first law in that region to recognize children's rights. The UNICEF director for Southern Sudan, Peter Crowley, called this step “a major milestone in creating a protective environment in which children can enjoy their rights to health, education and other basic services, to access information, to express their views, and to be protected from abuse, neglect, exploitation and harm.” (New Law for Child Rights to Be Celebrated in South Sudan Capital, SUDAN TRIBUNE, Apr. 9, 2009, available at

The Act prohibits discrimination against children on the basis of gender, age, religion, language, opinion, disability, disease, or other status, and it establishes an independent commission to promote children's rights and to investigate reported child abuses. It defines a child as anyone under the age of 18 and imposes a duty on every member of the community to report any abuse of children. Under this Act, parents have the duty to register the births of their children; provide them protection from neglect, discrimination, and abuse; and enroll them in full-time education. The Act prohibits the recruiting of children in the armed forces. It also prohibits the torture and cruel treatment of children, including corporal punishment in public institutions, be it in schools, jails, or other facilities. It makes it an offense to subject children to an early marriage or use them for prostitution and pornography. Under the Act, although children above the age of 12 are presumed to have criminal capacity, they are subject to a rehabilitative justice system and not the ordinary criminal justice system set up for adults. (UNICEF Lauds First-Ever Children's Rights Law in South, UN NEWS SERVICE, Apr. 9, 2009, available at