By the provision of the Child Protection Law of Jigawa State anyone convicted of raping a child below the age of 10 will be sentenced to death.’
While it is my irresistible position that Child Rapist and other abusers must face the full wrath of the law by all means necessary, I believe it is high time we defined what the full wrath of the law means in today’s criminal justice system and by universal standards.
Death sentence looks like the most effective tool of deterrence, research has now shown that is not but a distraction to the real remedy of prevention, which admonishes the Justice System to find the root causes of crimes and nip it in the bud. I think we need to study the examples of the Scandinavian jurisdictions in particular.
In crimes against children, prevention is all that we have. There is no punishment no matter how grave that can restore the affected child to normalcy. Even if death sentence deters another crime, what about that particular child is already affected?
Therefore, I think we need to look beyond all these sporadic and old-fashioned intervention of some governments at fighting crimes against our precious children and demand for the budget of the Jigawa State government for example on preventive measures already outlined according to the peculiarities of the state.
At any rate, it is also important to note that this law will only be enforced against the poor and not against the high and mighty.
As to the promulgation of the Child Protection Laws by some states in the north with Jigawa State as the latest. While I may have to celebrate this development as a form of progress as someone, who has worked with UNICEF over the years to see to the domestication of the Child’s Rights Act into state laws, I am of the view that it is not yet Uhuru.
We need to interrogate the provisions of the Child Protection Laws of different state in the north. One major issue this Child Protection Laws have deliberately failed to address is the question of who is a Child? These laws have refused to align themselves with the spirit of Convention on the Rights of the Child that a child is anyone below 18. Pretty much what the state governments are doing is to rebrand their Juvenile and Young Persons Law as Child Protection Law, while introducing few additions and amendments here and there.
At any rate it is important to note that it was not that these northern states do not have laws that claim to protect children known as Juvenile and Young Persons Laws. The bone of contention is a reform that conforms with the spirit of the CRC, which the Child Rights Act claims to domesticate.
Take for example the amendment to the Child Protection Law of Kaduna State which prescribes Castration for men and removal of fallopian tube for women as the sentence for child defilement, which we have all applauded. A child in that law is anybody below 14 years old.
It is the same thing for this Jigawa State Child Protection Law, which limits the age of the child whose rape is punishable by death is 10 years old. What about other children between ages 11 to 17?
I therefore do not rejoice at the promulgation of Jigawa State Child Protection Law nor impressed a bit about its death sentence provision. I demand for a more holistic approach to protecting our precious children from all forms of abuse.
Do have an INSPIRED week and compliments of the season.
I am Taiwo AKINLAMI
S.A.F.E®️ for Children ETHICIST