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Criminal law set for constitutional alignment

PARLIAMENT is seeking to align the country’s criminal laws with the Constitution to enhance protection of children and young persons.

Speaking during the Second Reading of the Criminal Laws Amendment Bill 2024, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the proposed law, which seeks to amend the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act to define a young person as anyone under 18 years old, was in line with the Constitution.

He said the Bill would align Sections 61, 70, 76, 83 and 86 of the Criminal Law, Codification and Reform Act with the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The sections define a young person as a person below the age of 16, whereas the Constitution of Zimbabwe places 18 years as the age of majority.

“This Bill seeks to confirm the amendments contained in the emergency decree made by President Emerson Mnangagwa under Statutory Instrument 2 of 2024.

He said the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act Chapter 9.23 contains several sections that protect children from sexual exploitation.

The sections refer to children as young persons and that term is defined as meaning boys and girls under the age of 16 years.

“Although the Criminal Law Court protects the children under the age of 16, it is imperative to note that it does not provide protection for children between the ages of 17 and 18 in the event of sexual crimes being committed on their persons,” Ziyambi said.

“As a result, the Constitutional Court has declared the definition of young person in Section 61 as well as Section 70, 76, 83 and 86 of the court to be unconstitutional and void. This Bill, therefore, intends to extend protection of children up to the age of 18 as enshrined in the Constitution.

Ziyambi urged legislators to pass the Bill to enhance the protection of children.

“It is also an important law that will promote the inclusion of people with speech impairment in our justice system so that they may be accorded an opportunity to be heard and participate in all court proceedings,” he said.

Source | NewsDay


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