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History was made on Friday when the Children's Protection and Welfare act of 2011 was launched over a decade since its preparation.

The law was described by the majority of speakers at the launching in Maseru as the highly ambitious piece of legislator with comprehensive and a holistic approach for children's protection and social needs.

The Minister of Law and Justice, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, Mrs. Mpeo Mahase-Molioa said the law replaced the outdated children's act of 1980, which was silent on social needs and challenges of the children rather focusing on children on the bad side of the law.

She said the present act is a special law that greatly differs with any previous law ever enacted,  saying that it combines numerous laws from country level, regional and international while maintaining the Basotho cultural values which put children's interest at the forefront.

The Minister said the law focuses on protection of children, their needs and their challenges which are far different from those of older generation.

She said children have rights to among others, education, good health and the right to be heard before any decision affecting them is made.

She said the part where children's opinion are to be considered might cause misconception to the public as the culture does not create a room for such liberty, further indicating the need to change attitude and to embrace shift for the benefit of the children.

She said the law further prohibits people including relatives from taking advantage of orphaned children where in some cases the property belonging to their deceased parents are taken and in some cases children become victims of different kinds of abuse.

Mrs. Mahase-Moiloa said the law further ensures that Basotho children grow with their cultural values along with responsibilities such as respect from family to community levels.

It also ensures that children are law abiding citizens that are also productive to their country, she added.

The implementation of this law, she said, will however requires a huge amount of funds and called to development partners to continue with support which they provided during the preparation of the act.

Also speaking was the UNICEF Representative to Lesotho, Dr Ahmed Magan, who commended the country for launching the Children Protection and Welfare Act, describing the move as the milestone marking the country's commitment to children's protection.

He praised the act saying it is responsive to challenges brought by the HIV and AIDS epidemic that has seen a growing number of orphaned children, poverty and worsening economic outcomes which have shattered the traditional social safety nets.

He said the law also goes to the heart of UNICEF mandate of advocating for the protection of children's rights, help them meet their basic needs and expand their opportunities to reach their full potential.

The launching of the act was held jointly with the commemoration of the breast feeding week officiated by Her Majesty Queen 'Masenate Mohato Seeiso.

Source: LENA 05/08/2011

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