By Anietie Akpan, Guardian Newspaper
Acting Chief Judge (CJ) of Cross River, Justice Maurice Eneji and a number of experts have picked poor funding as one of the major factors militating against full implementation of Child Rights Act and Family Court in the State.
Openinga two-day training yesterday on the family court rules funded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with the State Judiciary, he commended the global agency for facilitating the program.
According to him, the program “is coming at a time when we are experiencing a dramatic and alarming surge in child violation-related cases from sexual abuse, incest, deprivation to torture of all forms.
“The Cross River State Family Court Rules, 2019 are made to guide and regulate proceedings in the Family Court, hence the need to start implementing the rules in our Courts. But to do so, will require training and retraining of stakeholders. The above will help stakeholders to appreciate the objectives and principles of the rules for efficient and effective implementation of the Child Justice Administration across the State,” the jurist clarified.
He pointed out that “the efficient running of the family Court system requires budgetary provisions and releases of budgeted funds domiciled in the judiciary. But this funding is not there and there is currently a depletion of staff strength in the judiciary and the need for release of budgetary funds, targeted at employment, deployment and welfare of assessors and support staff and general running of the Family Court.”
In his remarks, the Human Rights Activist of Basic Rights Counsel Initiative, James Ibor, recalled that “Cross River State adopted the Child Right Act in 2009, with a practice direction to guide Judges, Magistrates and the whole practitioners and litigants on how to approach the Family Court, detailing the procedure.”
He stated that “the implementation of the Child Rights Act is slow because of very slow rules.”
Also speaking, the UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Enugu, Victor Atuchukwu noted: “The Family Court rule is on how to handle issues of children. Now we have a law. It is one thing to have users of the law, but it is utmost important for the users of the law to know what the law says. It involves Family Court functionaries. UNICEF has been in Cross River for a while, setting up and straightening child protection systems across the justice, police, welfare sectors and others.”