Children's Rights in South Sudan

In 2005, an autonomous regional government was established in Southern Sudan. It became an independent country on 9th July 2011, and is now the Republic of South Sudan.

The Child Act of 2010 in northern Sudan was preceded by the Southern Sudan Child Act of 2008.

Northern and Southern Sudan map

South Sudan hasn't signed the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Why? There is a conflict situation with northern Sudan in the border regions where oil reserves are located. Until the conflict is resolved South Sudan is not able to provide education and healthcare for children throughout the country. The economies of both north and south depend on oil exports. South Sudan might not ratify the CRC until the conflict is resolved and oil revenues are secure. Children's rights are supported in the Constitution. However, reports are emerging of serious human rights abuses by South Sudan's security forces.

Transitional Constitution of South Sudan

Part II of the Transitional Constitution (PDF document) of Southern Sudan is a Bill of Rights. Article 21 concerns the Rights of Children and Item 1 states:
(1) Every child has the right:
  • to life, survival and development;
  • to a name and nationality;
  • to know and be cared for by his or her parents or legal guardian;
  • not to be subjected to exploitative practices or abuse, nor to be required to serve in the army nor permitted to perform work which may be hazardous or harmful to his or her education, health or well-being;
  • to be free from any form of discrimination;
  • to be free from corporal punishment and cruel and inhuman treatment by any person including parents, school administrations and other institutions;
  • not to be subjected to negative and harmful cultural practices which affect his or her health, welfare and dignity;  and
  • to be protected from abduction and trafficking.

Part Three of the Constitution spells out the Fundamental Objectives and Guiding Principles, including parental rights:

39. Family.
  1. Family is the natural and fundamental unit of society and shall be protected by law.
  2. All levels of government shall promote the welfare of the family and enact the necessary laws for its protection.
  3. It is the right and duty of parents to care for and bring up their children.
  4. Children shall not be separated from their parents or persons legally entitled to care for them against the will of such parents or persons, except in accordance with the law.

Southern Sudan Child Act, 2008

The 2008 Child Act was inaugurated by the President in April 2009. It can be downloaded as a PDF document from the government's website: http://www.goss-online.org/.../Laws- -Legislation- -Policies/. The wording from the constitution has been revised to give a definition of "negative and harmful cultural practices", and to replace the specific term "corporal punishment" with the phrase "physical or mental violence".
22. Right to Protection from Abuse.
  • The Government shall take concrete measures to protect children from all forms of abuse and to ensure that any child who becomes the victim of abuse, as set out in this section shall be accorded appropriate treatment and rehabilitation.
  • Every child has the right to be protected from the following types of treatment and abuse while in the care of parents, legal guardians, teachers, police or any other person who has care of a child—
    • all forms of physical or mental violence, injury, abuse, negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation;
    • abduction and trafficking, for any purpose or form, by any person including parents or guardians;
    • sexual abuse, exploitation and harassment including, but not limited to rape, incest, inducement or coercion of a child to witness or engage in a sexual activity; the use of a child in prostitution or other sexual practices; and
    • the use of a child in pornographic performances and materials.
  • Whoever commits such an offence shall on conviction, be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

23. Right to Protection from Marriage and other Negative and Harmful Cultural and Social Practices.

  • Every child has the right to be protected from early marriage, forced circumcision, scarification, tattooing, piercing, tooth removal or any other cultural rite, custom or traditional practice that is likely to negatively affect the child's life, health, welfare, dignity or physical, emotional, psychological, mental and intellectual development.

However, Southern Sudan is still faced with the problem of effective law enforcement.

In 1990, Sudan was one of the first countries to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. In 1991, the National Government established a Council for Child Welfare, but progress on children's rights has been slower in the north, where female circumcision is still widely practiced. In 2009, UNICEF published a Working Paper on the Social dynamics of abandonment of FGM/C in Sudan.