Check out the first entry from the TruthAIDS Ambassador to Ethiopia who functions as our project officer!
TruthAIDS was invited to participate in a two day national conference in Addis Abeba to discuss the staggering problem on child abuse, rape, molestation and the courts bail system. I was among judges, police commissioners, lawyers, and city and regional representatives of the lower and higher circuit courts in the country. The conference was led by African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) who commissioned its legal arm, Children Legal Protection Center (CLPC) to do a study on the legal procedure on crimes committed against children. The center's finding were shocking, to put it in milder terms. The study, that surveyed court cases in four regions, showed that 2 out of 3 sexual crimes committed against children never get solved. The survey indicates, though not the main reason, the lack of integration between the police and the courts as one of the reasons for these cases not to be solved. The majority of unsolved cases in the regions surveyed are due to bail. The criminals simply disappear after posting bail. The center also pointed out lack of evidence as the other reason for cases to go unsolved.
Though the government's and court's efforts to protect children are commendable, the task ahead is clearly daunting. Tougher laws must be placed and every criminal should be punished up to the maximum penalty that the law permits. I am hopeful that the courts decision to deny bail based on the severity of the crimes and to treat each case individually will curb the outrageous stats presented by the center. It was also satisfying to hear rape against minors carries a minimum 15 years prison term.
Zeresenay Berhane Mehari
truthAIDS Ambassador to Ethiopia