The constitutional protection of child witnesses in Zimbabwe’s criminal justice system
Authors Rongedzayi Fambasayi
Affiliations: Professor of Law, University of the Western Cape
Source: South African Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 32 Issue 1, p. 52 – 75
To evaluate the legal landscape and the readiness of courts in Zimbabwe, in the protection of children who are witnesses to crime, this article provides a descriptive historical review of legal developments and reforms towards the promotion and protection of the rights of child witnesses. This is based on a constitutional framework, which has a strong recognition of human rights, particularly a fairly extensive clause entrenching children’s rights. It is contended that the entrenchment of children’s rights in the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 20) Act, 2013 — in particular the right to equality before the law, the right to be heard, the right to protection by the courts and the best interests of the child — is a remarkable step that opened a door to an undeniable claim of access to justice for children. Reference is made to international law on the human rights of the child and foreign law, in particular South Africa, to highlight notable comparative legal developments that inform recommendations and lessons that Zimbabwe can learn.