Thika Chief Magistrate Stella Atambo has called on law enforcement agencies and other players to explore avenues of dealing with children whenever there is a conflict with the law rather than take them to court.
Rooting for the minimization of cases involving juveniles, the magistrate noted that the Children’s Act 2022 is more about rehabilitation and communities taking care of children instead of resorting to punitive measures.
“We have too many cases of minors being hounded to court for small offences. This should not be the case and the courts or remand should be the last option,” Atambo said.
The Chief Magistrate spoke when she led other colleagues, court users and members of staff in visiting Macheo Children Rescue Centre in Gatuanyaga, Thika East sub-county where they shared a meal with the children and later planted trees.
The occasion also marked national children's service month, in which the courts have been prioritizing and fast-tracking cases involving minors.
“The biggest reason we are here today is to celebrate the Kenyan child under the theme of a new dawn for the Kenyan child and as such collaborative effort is needed in dealing with any child in conflict with the law,”Atambo added.
She prevailed on stakeholders and members of the community at large to sit down and resolve children's issues so that the cases taken to court are minimal.
At the same time, Atambo sent out a plea to parents to take an extra step and engage their children so that they are not tempted to fall into anti-social activities that may lead to premature pregnancies.
The centre's operations director Serah Mbirah said besides the 50 children currently housed there, the institution was feeding 30,000 children from the neighbourhood.
She appealed for support from well-wishers to deal with the challenges of lack of resources.
Mary Ann Njuguna, the officer in charge of Thika Women's Prison said the number of children accompanying their mothers serving time at the facility has increased.
On the other hand, Jane Mugo, the director of Trimoh Humanitarian Watch pledged to support the institution by offering training services and other logistics.