By Kwiza Mbumbeh, Maiduguri
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has lamented that children are denied justice against the high risks of violence and sexual abuse in Nigeria and West African countries.
According to the Fund, children’s access to justice system is still not a reality to protect them against psychological or sexual abuse.
UNICEF Country representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, yesterday (Friday), in a statement in Maiduguri; disclosed: “Vulnerable children rarely have access to child-friendly justice,” lamenting that they are often subjected to pre-trial detention in contravention of child rights standards.
He said the children are being denied justice, whether they are victims, witnesses or alleged offenders in their countries.
“In many cases, they are incarcerated with adults,” he said, warning that they are exposed to a high risk of violence and abuses.
He noted that to overcome inaccessibility, the European Union and the UN agency are to improve child access to justice.
Besides, he added that 41.389 children are to be supported with the provision of protection services.
He said that the children to be protected include survivors of violence, abuse and exploitation.
According to him, children in street situations who are often in conflict with the law are to have access to justice.
“This is in line with EU’s strategy on the Rights of the Child in protecting children’s rights,” stating that it is critical to ensure their growth and development.
The European Commissioner for International Partnership, Jutta Urpilainen also disclosed that $9.5 million (N39.2 billion) is earmarked to improve access to the adapted justice system in six West African countries.
He said this will make a real difference in the lives of the affected children in Nigeria and five other countries in West Africa.