The children’s parliament engages us as participants

For my first article as a child reporter, I decided to introduce you to the Children’s Parliament of North Kivu, of which I am a representative. Children’s participation is low in our county, especially in the East.

In 1999, the United Nations World Youth Congress in New York created the Children’s Parliament to involve children in societal decisions. It was established in North Kivu province in 2001, with the objective of creating a world conducive to the implementation of children’s rights and their enjoyment.

The Children’s Parliament is bicameral: there is the upper house – the high council – which is an advisory body constituted of thirty members; and the lower chamber – the children’s assembly – which is the coordinating body for all activities constituted of twenty members.

The parliament also has four technical committee presidents and 250-member general assembly. Since its inception, the Children’s Parliament has had six terms. The Honourable Michael chairs the current term.

Laetitia, présidente de la commission culture et loisir

Laetitia, présidente de la commission éducation, culture et loisir

The Committee on Education, Play, Culture, and Leisure works to ensure the population understands that children have the right to go to school and to have leisure time to refresh their thinking. Laetitia, its president, explained, “Without education, we cannot take the initiative to lead this country into the future, and playing allows children to flourish and develop ideas.”

The Committee on Law, Peace, and Child Protection conducts awareness raising activities about child protection with parents, students, neighborhood leaders, and authorities … Children’s growth depends on their protection. On this matter, Clarisse, explains: “I’d like to talk about the number 117, launched six months ago to enable children to call freely from any telecom service to report any violence against children”.

Obed, président de la commission environnement

Obed, président de la commission environnement

The Committee on Environmental Conservation and Management is chaired by Obed, who underscores that “we facilitate learning about the field of conservation and environmental management by organizing training sessions with young people.” Nobody disputes the importance of maintaining nature, as Jonathan shows: “With children, I investigated the management of garbage and trees in their families. This topic is close to my heart because the waste is important for the health of the children.”

The Committee on Health and Social Assistance works to ensure that children are healthy. As Patrick, its president, said: “we investigate health problems and from the results of those investigations, we design projects that our partners support and that we can achieve.

The Committee on Peaceful Conflict Resolution and the Rights of the Child receives cases about child’s rights violations, and invites the defendant and the victim in an attempt to reach a peaceful and rational solution. Otherwise, the case is required to be transferred to the competent courts. Monitoring child’s rights violations falls within the scope of this committee’s work.

Since 2014, 200 cases were resolved with adequate solutions, and 120 cases were transferred to the competent courts. In total, therefore, 320 cases were recorded. The Children’s Parliament works in partnership with the emergency hotline 117 and with CAJED, the transit and orientation center for child soldiers.

Daniel, jeune reporter travaillant en étroite collaboration avec le parlement d'enfants

Daniel, jeune reporter travaillant en étroite collaboration avec le parlement d’enfants

In the Parliament, we have a great partnership with the young reporters for advocacy, and the majority of young reporters in Goma come from the Children’s Parliament. Daniel, a former child reporter and now a youth reporter, explains: “The young reporters complete the Children’s Parliament because they can provide video or written support for advocacy measures.” These reports allow us to make policymakers understand the problems facing children. This cohesion also exists with radio and television programs, concerts, and festivals like Amani.

Along with the other child parliamentarians, we create new projects, like the creation of a Child’s Parliament in a displaced persons camp. Jonathan, the recording secretary of the Children’s Parliament tells us, “I was selected to facilitate the creation of a Children’s Parliament in the Mugunga camp. The National Commission gave us a room for 50 displaced children from 12 to 16; we trained them on the Children’s parliament, on the Convention on the Rights of the Child and on monitoring techniques.

Jonathan, secrétaire rapporteur du parlement d'enfants

Jonathan, secrétaire rapporteur du parlement d’enfants

Among our major projects, there is the Zero Child project associated with elections and the Zero Child project associated with armed forces and groups. Today, the Children’s Parliament is a great structure for children to participate in the promotion of their rights.We want the government to become aware of the situation of children in Eastern DRC.

Our dream is to have a world fit for children, allowing them to enjoy their rights to the fullest extent.

We recommend that the government create a National Children’s Parliament, which would allow children to participate across the country in pursuit of this dream.

Everything that you do for children without children s not for children!

Photo: UNICEF RDC 2015 Justin Kasereka

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Jospin Benekire

Jospin a 16 ans et fait partie de la nouvelle génération des enfants reporters de Goma. Il est également le porte-parole du parlement d’enfant depuis 2013. Il veut devenir journaliste international ou avocat des droit humains pour améliorer la situation des enfants. Ce qu’il préfère dans le fait d’être enfant reporter : « faire des articles et des reportages sur la situation des enfants pour renforcer notre plaidoyer et faire comprendre aux décideurs les problèmes ».

Jospin is 16 years old and is part of the new generation of young reporters from Goma. He is also the spokesman of the child Parliament since 2013. He wants to become an international journalist or a lawyer in human rights to improve the situation of children. What he loves about being a young reporter: "make articles and reports on the situation of children to strengthen our advocacy and expose the problems to the policymakers."

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