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CHILDREN ACT.

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS.

   Section

PART I
INTERPRETATION.

   1.   Interpretation.

PART II
RIGHTS OF THE CHILD.

   2.   Definition of child.

   3.   Guiding principles.

   4.   Child's right to stay with parents.

   5.   Duty to maintain a child.

   6.   Parental responsibility.

   7.   Harmful customary practices.

   9.   Children with disabilities.

PART III
SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN BY LOCAL AUTHORITIES.

   10.   Local councils to safeguard children and promote reconciliation between parents and children.

   11.   Duty to report infringement of child's rights.

   12.   Appeals.

PART IV
FAMILY AND CHILDREN COURT.

   13.   Establishment of family and children court.

   14.   Jurisdiction of family and children court.

   15.   Venue of the family and children court.

   16.   Procedure in family and children court.

   17.   Care or supervision order to be of benefit to child.

   18.   Rules of court.

PART V
CARE AND PROTECTION OF CHILDREN.

   19.   Supervision orders and care orders.

   20.   Welfare reports.

   21.   Grounds for making a supervision or care order.

Supervision order.

   22.   Application for a supervision order.

   23.   Duties of a supervisor while a supervision order is in force.

   24.   Duration of a supervision order.

   25.   Probation and social welfare officer to enforce orders.

   26.   Requirements as to change of address and visits.

Care order.

   27.   Care order.

   28.   Purpose of a care order.

   29.   Duration of a care order.

   30.   Duty to enforce a care order.

   31.   Parental responsibility of warden or foster parent.

   32.   Special duties of the probation and social welfare officer in relation to care order.

   33.   Interim supervision order and interim care order.

   34.   Exclusion order.

   35.   Enforcement of exclusion order.

   36.   Search and production order.

   37.   Removal of a child under emergency protection.

   38.   Offence to remove a child from a place of safety without authority.

   39.   Persons to apply for discharge or variation of supervision or care order.

   40.   Duty of probation and social welfare officer to investigate.

   41.   Requirement to disclose information.

   42.   Medical examination of a child.

PART VI
FOSTER CARE PLACEMENTS.

   43.   Conditions for foster care placements.

PART VII
ADOPTION.

   44.   Jurisdiction.

Prerequisites for adoption.

   45.   Restrictions and conditions.

   46.   Intercountry adoption.

   47.   Consent.

   48.   Functions of the court.

   49.   Rules as to the procedure for adoption.

   50.   Appeals.

   51.   Effect of an adoption order.

   52.   Devolution of property.

   53.   Wills.

   54.   Adopted children register.

   55.   Disclosure of adoption.

PART VIII
APPROVED HOMES.

   56.   Minister to approve homes.

   57.   Admission of children to home.

   58.   Purpose of an approved home.

   59.   Parental responsibility of warden and staff of approved homes.

   60.   Contact with parents and relatives.

   61.   Removal of child from an approved home.

   62.   Recovery order.

   63.   Application for a recovery order.

   64.   Escape from approved home or foster parent.

   65.   Court's power to order parent or guardian to contribute.

   66.   Rules for approved homes.

PART IX
PARENTAGE OF CHILDREN.

   67.   Declaration of parentage.

   68.   Application for declaration.

   69.   Proceedings on application for declaration of parentage.

   70.   Proof of parentage.

   71.   Prima facie and conclusive evidence of parentage.

   72.   Effect of declaration of parentage.

   73.   Custody of children.

   74.   Appeals.

   75.   Revocation of declaration of parentage.

Maintenance orders.

   76.   Application for child maintenance order.

   77.   Warrant to attach earnings or levy the distress for the recovery of maintenance money.

   78.   Variation of maintenance orders.

   79.   Money to be paid to applicant or custodian.

   80.   Appointment of custodian.

   81.   Misapplying maintenance money.

   82.   Cessation of order.

   83.   Rules in respect of fees and costs.

Maintenance during divorce, separation or nullity.

   84.   Maintenance during divorce, separation or nullity.

   85.   Variation of custody.

   86.   Upbringing of a child.

   87.   Unfit parents.

PART X
CHILDREN CHARGED WITH OFFENCES.

   88.   Age of criminal responsibility.

   89.   Arrest and charge of children.

Detention pending trial.

   90.   Bail.

   91.   Remand.

Role of the executive committee courts.

   92.   Role of local council courts.

Family and children court.

   93.   Criminal jurisdiction of family and children court.

   94.   Orders of family and children court.

   95.   Probation and social welfare officer's report.

   96.   National Rehabilitation Centre for Children and other centres.

   97.   Committee of visitors; rules governing a centre; assisting escape or preventing return to a centre.

   98.   Aftercare.

   99.   Duration of cases.

   100.   Remission of cases.

   101.   Restriction on use of certain words.

   102.   Protection of privacy and restriction on publication.

   103.   Children in a magistrate's court.

   104.   Children in the High Court.

   105.   Appeals.

PART XI
MISCELLANEOUS.

   106.   Decriminalisation of certain offences in relation to children.

   107.   Inquiry as to age of person appearing to the court to be below 18 years of age.

   108.   Presumption of age by court conclusive evidence of that person's age.

   109.   General penal provision for offences under the Act.

   110.   Regulations.

   111.   Enforcement of judgments, decisions and orders of the family and children court.

   112.   Modification of existing enactments.

   113.   Transitional provisions regarding approved schools and reformatory schools.

      First Schedule   Guiding principles in the implementation of the Act.

      Second Schedule   Foster Care Placement Rules.

CHAPTER 59
CHILDREN ACT.

Commencement: 1 August, 1997.

   An Act to reform and consolidate the law relating to children; to provide for the care, protection and maintenance of children; to provide for local authority support for children; to establish a family and children court; to make provision for children charged with offences and for other connected purposes.

PART I
INTERPRETATION.

1.   Interpretation.

   In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—

   (a)   "approved home" means a Government or nongovernmental home approved by the Minister to provide substitute family care for a child and includes a babies' home and children's home which provide care and accommodation for children aged below six years and aged between three to under 18 years respectively;

   (b)   "authorised person" means an official or other person authorised expressly or impliedly to perform the act in question;

   (c)   "care order" means a care order made under Part V of this Act and includes an interim care order;

   (d)   "chief magistrate's court" means a magistrate's court presided over by a chief magistrate;

   (e)   "competent authority" means an official or body or other person authorised expressly or impliedly by any enactment or otherwise to perform the act in question;

   (f)   "custodian" means a person in whose care a child is physically placed;

   (g)   "detention centre" means a detention centre within the meaning of section 96;

   (h)   "exclusion order" means an exclusion order made under section 34;

   (i)   "foster care placement" means the placement of a child with a person who is not his or her parent or relative and who is willing to undertake the care and maintenance of the child;

   (j)   "foster parent" means a person not being the biological mother, father or relative of the child who assumes parental responsibility of the child by way of a care order;

   (k)   "guardian" means a person having parental responsibility for a child;

   (l)   "local authority" means a local government council;

   (m)   "Minister" means the Minister responsible for children's welfare;

   (n)   "parent" means the biological mother or father or adoptive mother or father of a child;

   (o)   "parental responsibility" means all rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child;

   (p)   "person in a position of authority" has the meaning assigned to it by section 71;

   (q)   "place of safety" means a place where food, protection and accommodation is provided by a fit person to a child to whom section 37 applies;

   (r)   "remand home" means a place declared by the Minister to be a remand home under section 91 or any other place declared to be a remand home under any other enactment;

   (s)   "Rules Committee" means the Rules Committee provided for by section 40 of the Judicature Act;

   (t)   "significant harm" means significant harm within the meaning of section 21;

   (u)   "supervision order" means a supervision order made under Part V of this Act and includes an interim supervision order;

   (v)   "supervisor" means the person under whose supervision a child has been placed under a supervision order or an interim supervision order;

   (w)   "welfare report" means a welfare report within the meaning of section 20.

PART II
RIGHTS OF THE CHILD.

2.   Definition of child.

   A child is a person below the age of 18 years.

3.   Guiding principles.

   The welfare principles and the children's rights set out in the First Schedule to this Act shall be the guiding principles in making any decision based on this Act.

4.   Child's right to stay with parents.

   (1) A child is entitled to live with his or her parents or guardians.

   (2) Subject to subsection (1), where a competent authority determines in accordance with the laws and procedures applicable that it is in the best interests of the child to separate him or her from his or her parents or parent, the best substitute care available shall be provided for the child.

5.   Duty to maintain a child.

   (1) It shall be the duty of a parent, guardian or any person having custody of a child to maintain that child and, in particular, that duty gives a child the right to—

   (a)   education and guidance;

   (b)   immunisation;

   (c)   adequate diet;

   (d)   clothing;

   (e)   shelter; and

   (f)   medical attention.

   (2) Any person having custody of a child shall protect the child from discrimination, violence, abuse and neglect.

6.   Parental responsibility.

   (1) Every parent shall have parental responsibility for his or her child.

   (2) Where the natural parents of a child are deceased, parental responsibility may be passed on to relatives of either parent, or by way of a care order, to the warden of an approved home, or to a foster parent.

7.   Harmful customary practices.

   It shall be unlawful to subject a child to social or customary practices that are harmful to the child's health.

8.   Harmful employment.

   No child shall be employed or engaged in any activity that may be harmful to his or her health, education or mental, physical or moral development.

9.   Children with disabilities.

   The parents of children with disabilities and the State shall take appropriate steps to see that those children are—

   (a)   assessed as early as possible as to the extent and nature of their disabilities;

   (b)   offered appropriate treatment; and

   (c)   afforded facilities for their rehabilitation and equal opportunities to education.

PART III
SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN BY LOCAL AUTHORITIES.

10.   Local councils to safeguard children and promote reconciliation between parents and children.

   (1) It is the general duty of every local government council from the village to the district level—

   (a)   to safeguard and promote the welfare of children within its area; and

   (b)   to designate one of its members to be the person responsible for the welfare of children; and this person shall be referred to as the secretary for children's affairs.

   (2) The secretary for children's affairs shall, in the exercise of his or her functions in relation to the welfare of children, be assisted by such officers of the local government council as the local government council may determine.

   (3) In particular, every local government council shall mediate in any situation where the rights of a child are infringed and especially with regard to the protection of a child, the child's right to succeed to the property of his or her parents and all the rights accorded to a child in section 5.

   (4) The power given to the local government council to protect the property of a child shall not include any powers of distribution of the property by the local government council.

   (5) A local government council shall keep a register of disabled children within its area of jurisdiction and give assistance to them whenever possible in order to enable those children to grow up with dignity among other children and to develop their potential and self-reliance.

   (6) Each local government council shall provide assistance and accommodation for any child in need within its area of jurisdiction who appears to the committee to require assistance and accommodation as a result of his or her having been lost or abandoned or seeking refuge.

   (7) Each local government council shall make every effort, including publication through the mass media, to trace the parents or guardians of any lost or abandoned child or to return the child to the place where he or she ordinarily resides; and where the committee does not succeed, it shall refer the matter to a probation and social welfare officer or to the police.

11.   Duty to report infringement of child's rights.

   (1) Any member of the community who has evidence that a child's rights are being infringed or that a parent, a guardian or any person having custody of a child is able to but refuses or neglects to provide the child with adequate food, shelter, clothing, medical care or education shall report the matter to the local government council of the area.

   (2) The secretary for children's affairs may, upon receiving the report, summon the person against whom the report was made under subsection (1) to discuss the matter; and a decision shall be made by the secretary for children's affairs in the best interests of the child.

   (3) Where the person against whom the report was made refuses to comply with the decision made under subsection (2), the secretary of children's affairs shall refer the matter to the village executive committee court which shall adjudicate the matter and may—

   (a)   give any relief or order allowed by the law; and

   (b)   in the case of a parent, in addition to the reliefs or orders given under paragraph (a), order the parent to execute a bond to exercise proper care and guardianship by signing an undertaking to provide the child with any or all of the requirements of the child.

12.   Appeals.

   Subject to this Act, the executive committee court at village level shall be the court of first instance in matters under this Part of the Act and appeals from that court shall follow the order of appeals as set out in section 105.

PART IV
FAMILY AND CHILDREN COURT.

13.   Establishment of family and children court.

   (1) There shall be a court to be known as the family and children court in every district, and any other lower government unit designated by the Chief Justice by notice in the Gazette.

   (2) A magistrate not below the grade of magistrate grade II shall be assigned to preside over the family and children court.

14.   Jurisdiction of family and children court.

   (1) A family and children court shall have power to hear and determine—

   (a)   criminal charges against a child subject to sections 93 and 94; and

   (b)   applications relating to child care and protection.

   (2) The court shall also exercise any other jurisdiction conferred on it by this or any other written law.

15.   Venue of the family and children court.

   A family and children court shall, whenever possible, sit in a different building from the one normally used by other courts.

16.   Procedure in family and children court.

   (1) The procedure of the family and children court in all matters shall be in accordance with rules of court made by the Rules Committee for the purpose, but subject to the following—

   (a)   the court shall sit as often as necessary;

   (b)   proceedings shall be held in camera;

   (c)   proceedings shall be as informal as possible and by inquiry rather than by exposing the child to adversarial procedures;

   (d)   parents or guardians of the child shall be present whenever possible;

   (e)   the child shall have a right to legal representation;

   (f)   the right to appeal shall be explained to the child.

   (2) Apart from members and officers of the court, only the following persons may at the discretion of the court attend any sitting of a family and children court—

   (a)   parties to the case before the court, their advocates, witnesses and other persons directly concerned in the case;

   (b)   parents or guardians of the child before the court;

   (c)   a probation and social welfare officer; and

   (d)   any other person whom the court authorises to be present.

17.   Care or supervision order to be of benefit to child.

   A family and children court shall not make a supervision order or a care order unless it considers that doing so would be beneficial to the child.

18.   Rules of court.

   The Rules Committee may make rules prescribing—

   (a)   the procedure to be followed in a family and children court and, in particular, as to the recording of evidence and the manner of arriving at and recording of findings and orders;

   (b)   the manner in which a family and children court shall be constituted.

PART V
CARE AND PROTECTION OF CHILDREN.

19.   Supervision orders and care orders.

   On the application of a probation and social welfare officer or an authorised person, a family and children court may make—

   (a)   a supervision or interim supervision order placing a child under the supervision of a probation and social welfare officer while leaving the child in the custody of his or her parents or relatives.

   (b)   a care order or interim care order, placing a child in the care of the warden of an approved home or with an approved foster parent in accordance with the Foster Care Placement Rules in the Second Schedule to this Act.

20.   Welfare reports.

   (1) The family and children court shall require a written welfare report in respect of a child before making a supervision order or a care order.

   (2) It shall be the duty of the probation and social welfare officer to prepare a welfare report, and he or she shall comply with the request of a family and children court whenever required to produce a welfare report.

   (3) The probation and social welfare officer shall make a home visit and interview the parents of the child concerned before making a welfare report.

   (4) Where the child in respect of whom the welfare report is made is of sufficient age and understanding, he or she shall be interviewed by the probation and social welfare officer.

   (5) A welfare report shall contain matters relating to the welfare of the child and recommendations as to any action to be taken by the family and children court.

   (6) The family and children court shall take the information contained in the welfare report into account in as far as it is relevant to the order being made.

   (7) If the family and children court is not satisfied with any recommendation made by the probation and social welfare officer in the welfare report, it shall state and record its reasons for not complying with the recommendation.

21.   Grounds for making a supervision or care order.

   A family and children court may only make an order under this Part, if it is satisfied that—

   (a)   the child concerned is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm; and

   (b)   that the harm, or probability of harm, is attributable to—

      (i)   the care given to the child, or likely to be given to the child if the order were not made, not being what it would be reasonable to expect a parent to give to a child; or

      (ii)   the child's being beyond parental control.

Supervision order.

22.   Application for a supervision order.

   Before making an application for a supervision order, the probation and social welfare officer or an authorised person shall be satisfied that—

   (a)   the local government councils from village to subcounty level where the child resides have dealt with the matter without success;

   (b)   there is need for continuous supervision enforced by a court order.

23.   Duties of a supervisor while a supervision order is in force.

   The duties of a supervisor while a supervision order is in force are—

   (a)   to be friendly to, advise and assist the supervised child;

   (b)   to advise the parents;

   (c)   to make plans for the child's future in consultation with the child and his or her parents or guardian;

   (d)   to apply to the court to discharge or vary the order if necessary;

   (e)   to take such other reasonable steps as may be necessary to reduce the harm to the child.

24.   Duration of a supervision order.

   (1) A supervision order shall be made for one year but may be extended for one further year on the application of the probation and social welfare officer.

   (2) An extension of a supervision order shall require a written report by the probation and social welfare officer.

   (3) A supervision order shall terminate when the child to whom it relates attains 18 years of age.

25.   Probation and social welfare officer to enforce orders.

   The duty to enforce a supervision order shall be vested in the probation and social welfare officer who applies for the order.

26.   Requirements as to change of address and visits.

   A supervision order shall require the person with whom the child lives—

   (a)   to inform the supervisor of any change of his or her address;

   (b)   to allow the supervisor to visit the child at his or her home.

Care order.

27.   Care order.

   (1) A family and children court may, on the application of a probation and social welfare officer or an authorised person, make a care order or an interim care order placing a child in the care of the warden of an approved home or with foster parents.

   (2) An application for a care order may only be made—

   (a)   after all possible alternative methods of assisting the child have been tried without success and the significant harm from which the child is suffering or is likely to suffer requires his or her removal from where he or she is living; or

   (b)   the danger to which the child is exposed is so severe as to require his or her immediate removal from where he or she is living.

28.   Purpose of a care order.

   The object of a care order is—

   (a)   to remove a child from a situation where he or she is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm; and

   (b)   to assist the child and those with whom he or she was living or wishes to live to examine the circumstances that have led to the making of the order and to take steps to resolve or ameliorate the problem so as to ensure the child's return to the community.

29.   Duration of care order.

   (1) A care order shall be for a maximum period of three years or until the child reaches the age of 18 years, whichever is the shorter.

   (2) A care order shall be reviewed at least once in each year by the probation and social welfare officer who may make recommendations as to steps to be taken having regard to the outcome of the review.

30.   Duty to enforce a care order.

   The duty to enforce the care order shall be vested in the probation and social welfare officer who applies for the order.

31.   Parental responsibility of warden or foster parent.

   (1) The warden of the approved home or the foster parent with whom the child is placed has parental responsibility for the child while the child is with him or her.

   (2) The child's contact with parents, relatives and friends while he or she is in the approved home or with a foster parent shall be encouraged unless it is not in the best interests of the child.

   (3) The warden of the approved home or the foster parent with whom the child is placed shall ensure that the child's development while in the approved home or with a foster family, particularly his or her health and education, is attended to.

   (4) It is the responsibility of the warden of the approved home to communicate with the parents or guardians of the child, to inform them of the child's progress and to arrange through the probation and social welfare officer for a trial return home by the child as soon as it is appropriate.

32.   Special duties of the probation and social welfare officer in relation to care order.

   (1) The probation and social welfare officer shall, before and after the termination of the care order, work with the parents, guardians or relatives, to whom the child is expected to return after the termination of the care order.

   (2) The duties of the probation and social welfare officer under this section include child and family counselling, before, during and after the child's return and gaining the assistance of those in the community who can help in the process of resolving the problems which caused the care order to be made.

   (3) In carrying out his or her duties under this section, the probation and social welfare officer shall bear in mind the wishes of the child.

   (4) When a child is placed with a foster family, it shall be the responsibility of the probation and social welfare officer to communicate with the guardians or parents of the child, to inform them of the progress of the child and to arrange a trial period for the child to be at home as soon as it is appropriate.

   (5) The probation and social welfare officer shall visit the child during the trial period at home and make plans for the future of the child in consultation with the foster parents.

33.   Interim supervision order and interim care order.

   (1) A family and children court may, on hearing information on oath by a probation and social welfare officer, or an authorised person, that a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm, make an interim supervision order or an interim care order in respect of the child.

   (2) An interim order may not be made unless a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm as described in section 21.

   (3) The maximum period for an interim order is three months, but the court may prescribe a lesser period.

   (4) If the probation and social welfare officer wishes to recommend a full care or supervision order, he or she shall present a report to the court during the period of the interim order.

34.   Exclusion order.

   (1) A family and children court may, in addition to, or in proceedings for a supervision order, care order, interim supervision or interim care order, make an exclusion order prohibiting a named person from having contact with the child or with the child and persons looking after the child.

   (2) Before making an exclusion order, a family and children court shall be satisfied that it is necessary for

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