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Mozambique[1] [print]

Last edited: November 2005

 

Summary and Analysis

 

Mozambique ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in April 1994 and submitted its first report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in June 2000. Mozambique ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in July 1998.  Mozambique's Constitution provides that international agreements, once duly approved and ratified, are part of Mozambique's national legal system and have the same weight as legal norms established by Congress and the Executive, but do not take precedence over the constitution.[2]

 

Mozambique's Constitution, adopted four years prior to Mozambique's ratification of the CRC, contains language similar to Article 12 of the CRC. The Constitution generally recognizes the right of the child to be heard in matters affecting the child's rights and interests, providing that "children may express their opinion freely with regard to matters that affect them, in accordance with their age and maturity."[3]

 

Mozambique's judicial and administrative system for matters involving minors is incipient and still under development.  Children are represented in administrative and judicial proceedings by guardians ad litem, social assistance services, medical-psychological services, parents, guardians, or their legal representatives.  Beyond the Constitution, representation of children is governed by the Civil Code (Articles 143-144), the Family Law (Articles 287, 296, 298-326, 337-406), and the Legal Assistance for Minors Statute (Articles 18, 19, 44, 63, 65, 66).  The Statute on Legal Assistance for Minors, which addresses judicial proceedings for minors (special courts for minors, social assistance services, medical-psychological assistance etc.), civil protection measures for minors, and guardianship procedures, is currently being revised.

 

In 2003, the government's legal reform unit (Unidade Técnica de Revisão Legal) carried out an extensive review of all legislation and policy relating to children in Mozambique, carrying out regional workshops, interviews with government employees and advocates, and a study based on children's viewpoints.  The report concluded that there is a strong need for reforming legislation relating to children as the existing laws are outdated, fragmented, inaccessible, weak substantively, and sometimes vague.[4] 

 

Currently, Articles 1 and 2 of the Statute on Legal Assistance for Minors provide that regular courts have jurisdiction over issues relating to the protection of children and that specialized courts for minors can be established.   Only one such special court for minors, in Maputo, was established to date.[5]  The study recommended the expansion of the services provided by this specialized court, the institution of simpler and more accessible procedures, and establishment of specialized courts for minors in other parts of the country.[6]  Participants interviewed for the study agreed that, as a result of lack of financial resources and knowledge about the right to provision of legal representation by the state, children do not have adequate access to legal representation in matters affecting them.[7]

 

The study highlighted the lack of recognition of the child's right of participation in Mozambique's legislation, both in the broader form included in Article 12(1) of the CRC and in judicial and administrative proceedings as provided in Article 12(2).  One exception is the 2003 Family Law, which provides for the consent of children over 12 years old in adoption situations.[8]  In practice, however, the study found children almost never participated in the decision as to what would happen to them once the person taking care of them died,[9] an issue of growing relevance in the context of Mozambique's HIV/AIDS epidemic.  The report also noted the lack of coordination between agencies responsible for providing children services, the non-existence of regulations to implement legislation, and lack of monitoring mechanisms.[10]

 

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

 

Portuguese Text

 

Constitution

 

Constituição da República de Moçambique[11]

 

Artigo 47° (Direitos da criança)

 

1. As crianças têm direito à protecção e aos cuidados necessários ao seu bemestar.   

2. As crianças podem exprimir livremente a sua opinião, nos assuntos que lhes  dizem respeito, em função da sua idade e maturidade.   

3. Todos os actos relativos às crianças, quer praticados por entidades públicas,  quer por instituições privadas, têm principalmente em conta o interesse superior  da criança."

 

International Law

 

Convenção sobre os Direitos da Criança[12]

 

Artigo 12

 

1. Os Estados Partes garantem à criança com capacidade de discernimento o direito de exprimir livremente a sua opinião sobre as questores que lhe respeitem, sendo devidamente tomadas em consideração as opiniões da criança, de acordo com a sua idade e maturidade.

 

2. Para este fim, eu assegurada à criança a oportunidade de ser ouvida nos processos judiciais e administrativos que lhe respeitem, seja directamente, seja através de representante ou de organismo adequado, segundo as modalidades previstas pelas regras de processo da legislação nacional.

 

Regional Agreements

 

Carta Africana dos Direitos e do Bem-Estar da Criança[13]

 

Artigo 4. Melhor Interesse da Criança

...

2. Em todos processos judiciais e administrativos afectando a criança que tem capacidade de comunicar sua opinião, uma oportunidade será providenciada para ouvir as opiniões da criança, seja directamente ou através de um representante imparcial tomando parte dos procedimentos, e estas opiniões serão tomadas em conta pela autoridade relevante de acordo com o conteúdo da lei apropriada.

 

Artigo 7. Liberdade de Expressão 

Toda criança capaz de comunicar sua opinião terá o direito de exprimir livremente a sua opinião sobre todas questões e de difundir suas opiniões segundo as restrições previstas pela lei. 

 

English Text

 

Constitution

 

Constitution of the Republic of Mozambique[14]

 

Article 47 (Rights of the child)

 

1. Children have a right to protection and the necessary care for their well-being.

2. Children may express their opinion freely with regard to matters that affect them, in accordance with their age and maturity.

3. All actions related to children, whether carried out by public entities or private institutions, will prioritize the best interest of the child.

 

International Law

 

Convention on the Rights of the Child[15]

 

Article 12

 

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

 

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

 

Regional Agreements

 

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child[16]

 

Article 4. Best Interests of the Child

.

2. In all judicial or administrative proceedings affecting a child who is capable of communicating his/her own views, and opportunity shall be provided for the views of the child to be heard either directly or through an impartial representative as a party to the proceedings, and those views shall be taken into consideration by the relevant authority in accordance with the provisions of appropriate law.

 

Article 7. Freedom of Expression

Every child who is capable of communicating his or her own views shall be assured the rights to express his opinions freely in all matters and to disseminate his opinions subject to such restrictions as are prescribed by laws.

 

Additional Links and Resources

 

Associação dos Defensores dos Direitos da Criança (ADDC)

Ricardo Moresse

Tel: (258)    82 3181980

Email: rmoresse@yahoo.com.br

 

UNICEF Mozambique, Special Protection Section

1440, Zimbabwe Avenue

P.O.Box 4713

Maputo - Mozambique

Tel: (258) 21 481 100

(258) 21 481 108

Email: maputo@unicef.org

Website: http://www.unicef.org/mozambique/

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Const. Rep. Mozam. art. 18 (1990), available at www.mozambique.mz/pdf/constituicao.pdf, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[3] Id. art. 47.

[4] Unidade Técnica de Revisão Legal, Relatório Criança (2003), available at http://www.utrel.gov.mz/IndexAssunto.htm (under Crianças), and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[5] Id. at 73.

[6] Id. at 75.

[7] Id. at 84.

[8] Id. at 11.

[9] Id. at 68.

[10] Id. at 3.

[11] Const. Rep. Mozam., supra note 1.

[12] Portuguese translation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, available at http://www.unicef.org/brazil/dir_cri.htm.

[13] Unofficial translation provided by Portuguese translator at the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization.

[14] Unofficial translation provided by Portuguese translator at the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization.

[15] United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child art. 12, Dec. 12, 1989, UN General Assembly Document A/RES/44/25, available at http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm.

[16] African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, CAB/LEG/24.9/49 (1990), entered into force Nov. 29, 1999, available at http://www.africa-union.org/.

 

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