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ZELA Press Statement:2020 Day of the African Child

Child friendly environmental justice system should guarantee access to remedy for environmental child rights violations

The 2020 Day of the African Child (DAC) comes at a time when the continent and the world at large is battling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Though in itself a health pandemic, COVID-19 has caused disruptions to the socio-economic fabric of our societies. It has brought to the fore the importance of public environment, sanitary health infrastructure and systems. It has become more apparent that as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads throughout the world, communities with the least access to essential services like clean water and sanitary services will feel the most dramatic effects. Children and young people from these vulnerable communities are particularly at the core of the exposure risk.

Notably, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), a public interest environmental law organisation which seeks to promote environmental justice and sustainable utilisation of natural resources has been working to promote environmental child rights in mining communities. Though a major player in Zimbabwe’s economy, mining has been cited as one of the main causes of environmental degradation in the country. What is perhaps more distressing to note is that children are the most vulnerable to environmental harm. Research shows that open pits from indiscriminate haphazard illegal mining,  air and water pollution,  exposure to toxic substances, together with other types of environmental problems are causing an estimated 1.5 million deaths of children under the age of five every year and contribute to disease, disability and early mortality throughout their life (A/HRC/37/58).

 This year’s DAC theme being “Access to a child friendly justice system in Africa resonates with ZELA’s work on environmental child rights. We believe that one of the core component of environmental child rights is access to effective remedies when children’s environmental rights are threatened or violated. As a public interest environmental law organisation  we thus call for an environmental justice system which guarantees  access to remedy for environmental child rights violations taking into consideration the need for children to participate and access information, considering their level of understanding and of particular interest the best interests of the child.

 Are you  a child/young person  and want your voice to be heard, here is an opportunity for you http://www.zela.org/call-for-papers-children-and-youths-compendium%ef%bb%bf/Z

“Environmental justice through sustainable and equitable utilisation of natural resources and environmental protection”

ENDS//

For Further Information, Please Contact:

Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association

26 B Seke Road, Hatfield,Harare,Zimbabwe

Website : www.zela.org  |Twitter: @ZELA_Infor | Facebook: Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association

Tel: +263 242 573 601-3

Toll free line-08080403

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