Monday, the 27thJune,2022, marked a milestone which Lesotho commemorated the day for the African Child at Libibing Mokhotlong. This year’s theme is eliminating harmful practices affecting children; progress on policy and practice since 2013.
This event was graced by the presence of Her Majesty Queen Masenate Bereng Seeiso. In her keynote address, the Queen highlighted that the actual date for the commemoration is 16th June, however Lesotho has a mammoth task of eliminating harmful practices affecting child.
The Queen echoed that African Child Day is a result of youth uprising occurrences in the Republic of South Africa on the 16thJune,1976; whereby students were killed for protesting Afrikaans language teaching policy which was imposed on them.
Her Majesty stressed on the importance of laws especially those that protect and are for the interest of children; such as Anti-Trafficking Act as amended in 2021 and Child Protection and Welfare Act, 2011. She stressed that government ought to ensure that these are enforced accordingly.
In reaction to Her Majesty’s concern, the Honourable Minister of Home Affairs Motlalentoa Letsosa outlined the importance of birth registration of every child as per Sustainable Development Goal 16.9; providing universal legal identity; leaving no one behind. In view of this target, the Ministry ensures that birth registration is done in every legal locality, be it at electoral division, local councils, and even chiefs offices for ensuring birth registration accessibility to all.
He added that the new scourge of rampant Human Trafficking also affects children but with legal identity, the victim will be easily identified and probably be able to be rescued and returned to one’s country.
The Minister promised that with the increasing childbirth registration numbers, there is light at the end of the tunnel. According to the Minister, statistics for children less than a year stood at 18% in 2021, the number increased to 60% in 2022, the hope is that by the end of 2022, a mark of 85% would have been reached.
He concluded that the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act 2021 as amended; stipulates that anyone found trafficking a child is liable to life imprisonment.
On the other hand, the acting Minister of Social Development Honourable Keketso Sello highlighted the ministry’s mandate as ensuring safety of every child, extension of social assistance to vulnerable children such as in their education and provision of equipment or necessities where need arises. He also echoed that every child ought to know their rights to eliminate harmful practices that affect them.
The highlight of this commemoration was the launch of a pamphlet on how to raise a child and issuing birth certificate to newly born and their mothers through the assistance of Honourable Minister of Home Affairs Motlalentoa Letsosa.