The CRADLE became 22 years old at the beginning of the year 2021. The organization has grown exponentially and has a rich history of implementing child rights programs with a strong focus on access to justice and child protection. This saw the opening of satellite offices and legal clinics in Kisumu, Suba, Eldoret, Kwale, Mombasa, Malindi and Turkana to augment the Nairobi office. With the government initiating the NLAS program and with the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization closed all its Satellite offices in 2020 and down-sized many programs.


The organization can boast of programmatic achievements as follows.

Policy and Legislative Advocacy Program

Legislating for Children Project

This project worked to ensure that there was a child-friendly legislative framework by seeking to include children specifically in the Constitution of Kenya; to seek the amendment of laws that were not child-friendly; to seek the enactment of laws that will better protect children and mainstream child rights in legislation. Some of the successes of the project are as follows:

The 2010 Constitution

The CRADLE can correctly be described as one of the founding organizations of the 2010 Constitution as it was one of only two child-focused organizations that were directly involved in the process. The CRADLE was involved with the pioneering work under the Ufungamano initiative and later with the formal government-led process as an observer in BOMAS. The CRADLE, through a network led by the Kenya Women Political Caucus, submitted proposals on child rights to the Prof. Yash Pal Ghai led Constitutional Committee. Many of the recommendations to the Committee were incorporated in the Constitution. The then Executive Director was also appointed a delegate and served under the Bill of Rights Committee. The CRADLE also amplified the children’s voices in the constitutional process through engaging the children and documenting issues of concern in a booklet “Absent Voices” that was availed to the delegates. The footprints of involvement of the organization in the process, is all over the Constitution and includes the following:

  • Contributions to the Bill of Rights Chapter, (Chapter IV) that has seen the inclusion of the rights of the child for the first time;
  • The provisions on enforcement of the Bill of rights that provides less stringent standards for litigating rights and removes procedural technicalities under Article 22. This allows organizations such as The CRADLE to appear in court on behalf of children and in the public interest. The Constitution also enhances access to justice for the indigent. The CRADLE lobbied for mechanisms that facilitate better access to justice for ordinary Kenyans and children in particular through expanding the framework on locus standi, provisions on amicus curiae and simplifying the process of litigation to make it more people-friendly.
  • Article 43 on socio-economic rights that have a bearing on the development of a child;
  • Article 45 on the family which limits marriage to adults and thereby precludes early and forced marriages;
  • Article 48 and 49 on access to justice and rights of arrested persons. The CRADLE had undertaken a public interest litigation case on the arrest and detention of a minor in the case of Republic vs S.A, that was a case against a minor charged with the offence of murder. Some of the orders sought in that matter is now provided under Article 49;
  • Article 53 that is a dedicated section on child rights which emphasizes core principles such as the best interests of the child, child development and protection. It also provides a framework for better treatment of children in the justice system;
  • Article 53 (1) (e) that elevated to constitutional levels, some problematic areas or penumbras on child rights that had hitherto been litigated by the organization such as the protection of children born out of wedlock. In the case of RM vs. the Attorney General, The CRADLE had sued the government for the discrimination of children born out of wedlock. The court ruled that the Constitution provided for differential treatment and did not in fact discriminate. The CRADLE ensured that the Constitution now has clear provisions that eliminate differential treatment which may be construed as discriminatory of children born out of wedlock;
  • Article 25 on protection against trafficking in persons: Through its pioneering work on trafficking in persons, The CRADLE ensured that this crime is also duly outlawed constitutionally and is one of the core rights that cannot be derogated upon under any circumstances.
  • Article 50 (9) on the protection of victims that had hitherto not been provided for.
  • Article 2 (5) and 2 (6) on treaty obligations. The organization advocated for the protection of treaty obligations to ensure adherence to the ACRWC, CRC, CEDAW and other Conventions of interest to the child.
  • Preamble: The organization also lobbied for sustainable development and use of resources for future generations in the best interest of the child under the preamble;
  • Article 10 on national values; and
  • Article 201 © that provides that “the burdens and benefits of the use of resources and public borrowing shall be shared equitably between present and future generations”.

The CRADLE was able to do this not only through direct participation but through the training of delegates. The organization ran a booth during the entire process and produced IEC materials for delegates including “Absent Voices” that documented concerns from the children sector. The CRADLE also sponsored the attendance by children in the process to give their views.

Children Act, No 8 of 2001, Cap 141

When the organization started its Legal Aid scheme, litigating children’s rights was a nightmare as there were over 60 pieces of legislation dealing with different components of child rights. Some of the pieces of legislation were also archaic and had provisions that were not progressive and were directly in conflict with the international standards on child rights under the CRC and other conventions. The government had earlier formed a Task Force to review the laws on children and the process had taken more than 20 years at this point. The CRADLE together with other child rights organizations such as ANPPCAN, CLAN and KAACR, spearheaded efforts to ensure the process was fast-tracked. This gave birth to the Children Act 2001. The CRADLE has also been undertaking an annual review of the Act. Following the enactment of the Constitution in 2010, The CRADLE together with other organizations, have been involved in a new initiative to ensure that this law is aligned to the 2010 Constitution. There is already a draft Children Bill that takes into account the learning process and aligns to the constitution.

Criminal Law Amendment Act, Act No. 5, 2003

The bulk of the work of the organization over the years has involved child-victims of sexual abuse. The organization faced challenges in its work as the then operative criminal justice legal framework, the Penal Code, the Evidence Act, the Criminal Procedure Act, the Children Act and the Criminal Procedure Code had very weak and retrogressive provisions relating to child victims of sexual abuse. The CRADLE together with organizations such as FIDA, spearheaded a campaign for the amendment of the legal framework. This resulted in some amendments to the Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Act and the Evidence Act under an Omnibus Act, the Criminal Laws Amendment Bill (Bill No. 5 of 2003). This saw a raft of amendments, including the following:

  • The increase of the age of consent from 14 years to 16 years on sexual issues:
  • The inclusion of boys and men as potential victims of sexual violence;
  • The harmonization and enhancement of the penalties for rape and defilement;
  • The criminalization of attempted rape;
  • The introduction of the provision that the lack of knowledge of the age of the victim of rape is irrelevant in establishing criminal responsibility in cases of rape;
  • The introduction of DNA evidence in cases of rape and defilement.
Sexual Offences Act, No. 3 of 2006

Despite the passage of the Criminal Law Amendment Act in 2003, it soon appeared that the legal framework in relation to sexual violence, especially against children, was still very faulty and needed a complete overhaul and a dedicated law. The CRADLE pioneered the drafting of the Sexual Offences Act, (SOA), with support from sister organizations from South Africa and Zimbabwe. The CRADLE undertook a comparative study visit to South Africa that informed the first draft of the Sexual Offences Law. Hon. Njoki Ndung’u later sponsored the Bill. Some of the challenges faced by the organization that necessitated a complete overhaul included the following:

  • Morality issue: Cases of sexual violence were treated as cases against morality and not crimes against the person. This affected how seriously they were taken as issues of morality can even be dealt with through Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms (ADR). Lower sentences were given for sexually violating children. For instance, the rape of a child did not attract even twenty years in prison but robbing a person while carrying a pen-knife, even if you did not use it, resulted in a death sentence. This means that a higher premium was placed on the value of property than on the life of a child;
  • Excluded offences: Certain forms of sexual violence were not known in the then prevailing law such as gang rape, child sex tourism, sexual harassment and trafficking for sexual purposes;
  • The law did not take into account new forms of sexual violence and emerging challenges such as deliberate transmission of HIV/AIDs;
  • Re-victimization through sexual history: The prevailing law allowed for re-victimization through allowing the evidence of a child’s sexual history. In one case handled by The CRADLE, the defense attorney submitted evidence of past sexual history of a 6-year old gang rape victim;
  • Register of offenders not in place: Child offenders were not vetted for child-related jobs as there was no register of offenders;
  • Impossibly high standard of proof: The standard of proof in cases of sexual violence made convictions almost impossible especially in a country with poor forensic expertise.
  • Lack of focus on victim restitution: The law was more focused on punishment and not victim restitution.
  • Recidivism: The law was not focused on reduction of recidivism or likelihood of repeat of offence by the same person by failing to focus on rehabilitation of the offender.
  • Holding society to account: The law did not focus on the role of society in reporting and dealing with cases of sexual abuse.
  • Lack of standard sentencing policy: There was no standard or uniform sentencing policy leading to discretion that was at times, not exercised judiciously. For instance, in one case where a child was raped and lost her uterus, the man was sentenced to probation since he ‘had a family that depended on him’;
  • Age of criminal consent: The age for sexual consent was not uniform since the Criminal Law Amendment Act provided for age 16 and the African Christian Marriage and Divorce Act provided for as low as 13 years and this gave room for abuse of children.
  • Women treated as unreliable witnesses: Under the law, based on decided cases, the evidence of women was treated as suspect as they were seen to be prone to ‘telling tales” or not being truthful.
  • Lack of sensitivity to PWD: The language used was not sensitive to persons with disabilities. Persons with mental disability were legally classified as “idiots and imbeciles”.
  • Lack of Gender-sensitivity: Women and girls’ experience of sexual violence was not taken into account e.g. The definition of private parts was limited and buttocks were declared non-private in the Fatuma Anyanzwa case.
  • The law was gender-insensitive as it presumed that men and boys could not be sexually violated;
  • New Technology; The law did not have guidelines on how to deal with evidence using new technology such as DNA evidence.
  • Lack of victim-centeredness: The law was not victim- focused, especially in relation to vulnerable victims.
  • Lack of accountability on care providers: The law did not place accountability measures on the community especially care-givers and persons in positions of trust.
  • Harmful cultural practices: There was no provision in relation to harmful cultural practices such as FGM and early and forced marriages;
  • Non-conformity to International Conventions: The law fell short of international standards on gender-based violence e.g, CEDAW and the Declaration on VAW.
  • Lack of Implementation framework: There was no implementation framework.

The CRADLE undertook comparative visits and research from other jurisdictions such as the UK, South Africa and Zimbabwe and developed a zero draft of the Sexual Offences Bill. Through the Juvenile Justice Network, JJN, a draft Sexual Offenses Bill was presented to the Attorney General who refined the same. Later, the same Bill was adopted by Hon. Njoki Ndungu who sponsored it as a Private Member’s Bill. The Law has provided a comprehensive and revolutionary framework dealing with the challenges mentioned herein-above. This has facilitated better conviction rates and better handling of cases of sexual violence against children.

Counter Trafficking in Persons Act, No. 8 of 2010

The CRADLE undertook ground-breaking work on trafficking against persons in Kenya. In 1997, the UN Special Rapporteur on Women declared Kenya a transit country on trafficking in persons. It was presumed that Kenya was neither a source or destination country for trafficking in persons. However, from cases handled by the organization, it became apparent that the issue of trafficking was more prevalent than was presumed.  Sometime in 2003, a case was reported to The CRADLE about a couple that had apparently lost their child at Pumwani Hospital to HIV/AIDs.  Pumwani is the biggest County Hospital in Kenya serving mainly residents of Nairobi and its environs.  There are several daily child deliveries.  The parents undertook an HIV test and were both HIV negative. The parents were convinced that they had buried the wrong child and their own child had been stolen.  The CRADLE represented the parents in court.  The body of the child was exhumed and a DNA performed to determine parentage.  It was apparent that these were not the real parents and that indeed their child was stolen.  Unfortunately, they never found the stolen child.

Shortly after, another woman presented a case to The CRADLE where she had given birth to twins in the same hospital and one mysteriously disappeared.  Another case was yet again reported to the organization where a man had taken the wife for delivery at Pumwani Hospital.  When he returned to visit the wife, he discovered that she had mysteriously gone missing and the hospital could not give an account of her.  After several searches, she was found in the morgue and with no pregnancy or child.  The CRADLE made formal complaints about the hospital and a Task Force was set up to establish whether there were cases of theft or of trafficking in children.  Even though the Task Force failed to acknowledge the severity of the matter, many other cases soon hit the headlines that showed the prevalence of these cases.  The most notable was the ‘miracle babies’ saga where women past child-bearing age would travel from the UK, they would be prayed for and suddenly get pregnant and deliver children within even a three-month period.  The matter was taken to court and the bishop’s wife convicted.  Bishop Deya has since been extradited to Kenya from the UK for trial.

It was clear from all the cases handled by The CRADLE that there was a general lack of awareness on what constituted trafficking and further, that there was no legal framework dealing with the same.  The organization undertook ground-breaking research in Kenya and beyond the borders including Ethiopia and Lebanon, and the findings are documented in the book “Broken Promises” on Trafficking in persons.  The research showed that Kenya was a source, transit, and destination country. The organization then pioneered public awareness on trafficking in persons including a media campaign on the same.  The organization also developed several IEC materials on the same.  A special project was set up specifically to provide legal aid to victims of trafficking.

Most important though, The CRADLE spearheaded the lobby for a legal framework on trafficking in persons. The CRADLE’s founding Director who had since become a Member of Parliament, sponsored the Counter Trafficking in Persons Act which now has very comprehensive provisions on trafficking in persons.  The Act establishes a special fund for trafficked persons.  A Task Force was set up to ensure the implementation of the Act.  The CRADLE served as a Member of the Task Force.

Treaty-Making and Ratification Act, No 45 of 2012

During the Constitutional review process, one of the reasons some people, led especially by the Church, opposed the Constitution, was because of Article 2 (6) of the Constitution that provides that any treaty or convention ratified by Kenya shall form part of the laws of Kenya.  The argument was that it is only Parliament that has the law-making mandate and hence no other body should have the authority to make law by way of ratification without the blessings of Parliament.  The CRADLE has for several years, worked on ensuring that Kenya meets its international human rights obligations under treaties it has ratified such as the CRC, CEDAW and other regional instruments.  The CRADLE lobbied for the enactment of a law that would give Parliament the mandate to first approve ratification, which would then allow public participation but at the same time guarantee that there is no derogation from rights already ratified.  This law was championed and sponsored by The CRADLE’s founder Hon Millie Odhiambo Mabona.  This has ensured that the rights under the CRC and other conventions ratified by Kenya are protected.  It has further ensured that any other treaty in relation to children is subjected to public participation through parliament.

Victim Protection Act, No 17 of 2014

Majority of the cases that were reported to and handled by The CRADLE involved child victims of crime.  It became apparent that the law paid a lot of attention and protection to the accused than to the victim of crime.  There were elaborate provisions in the law on the rights of an accused person while it was generally presumed that the courts and other justice providers would on their own volition protect the rights of victims of crime.  Unfortunately, this is not often the case and victims in the justice system suffer a lot of challenges.  This includes lack of information on their matters, lack of privacy for vulnerable victims and lack of compensation for victims of crime due to the existence of a complex and expensive civil law system that is out of reach of many victims of crime.

The CRADLE lobbied for the inclusion of the rights of victims of crime and the same is now entrenched in Article 50 (9) of the Constitution of Kenya.  The CRADLE further lobbied for the enactment of an enabling legislation.  This was sponsored by the former CRADLE Executive Director, Hon Millie Odhiambo and the same passed in 2014.  In the preamble it states: “AN ACT of Parliament to give effect to Article 50 (9) of the Constitution; to provide for protection of victims of crime and abuse of power, and to provide them with better information and support services to provide for reparation and compensation to victims; to provide special protection for vulnerable victims, and for connected purposes.”  The Act sets up a Victim Protection Fund.

Social Assistance Act, No 24 of 2013

The Social Assistance Act seeks primarily to give effect to Article 43 (1) (e) of the Constitution that provides that everyone has a right to social security.  The Act was sponsored by Hon. Joyce Laboso and The CRADLE worked closely with her to ensure that the rights of orphans and vulnerable children is included.

The Marriage Act, No. 4 of 2014

The CRADLE is one of the civil society organizations that advocated for amendment of the laws relating to marriage to ensure better protection of children, especially against early marriage.  The law has ensured that laws relating to marriage and divorce are now contained in one piece of legislation.  Further some archaic and discriminatory provisions that obtained in older pieces were repealed. Some of them allowed different ages for marriage for boys and for girls.  One piece of legislation also provided for different definition of children based on race.  The Marriage Act raised the age of Marriage to 18 years thereby providing better protection for children.

The Protection against Domestic Violence Act, No 2 of 2015

This is yet another piece of legislation that The CRADLE together with other NGOs advocated for.  Even though the home is supposed to be one of the safest spaces, the reported cases indicate that many children are victims of abuse within the home.  The law is described as an “ACT of Parliament to provide for the protection and relief of victims of domestic violence; to provide for the protection of a spouse and any children or other dependent persons, and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.” Some of the progressive provisions relating to children include the inclusion of psychological violence as a crime, FGM, early and forced marriages and virginity testing as domestic violence.  The law provides for special protection for child victims of domestic violence.

The Prohibition against Female Genital Mutilation Act, Act No 32 of 2011

The CRADLE has represented many children in cases related to FGM in the past.  In many of such cases, the organization has managed to rescue girls who were subject to FGM and some further subjected to early marriage. Many of the communities that were furthering this practice used culture as a defense.  This law hence seeks to criminalize the practice of FGM.  The Act is described as: “an Act of Parliament to prohibit the practice of female genital mutilation, to safeguard against violation of a person’s mental or physical integrity through the practice of female genital mutilation and for connected purposes”.

Freedom of Information Act, No. 3 of 2016

This is a law that provides for access to information by public entities.  The lobbying for the law was spearheaded by ICJ (K) as part of enhancement of accountability and transparency in governance but supported by several NGOs including The CRADLE.

The Basic Education Act, No. 14 of 2013

The lobbying for this Act was spearheaded by Elimu Yetu Coalition that The CRADLE was a member of.  The law provides for, amongst others, free and compulsory basic education and outlaws physical punishment against children. It also provides the roles of parents and guardians.  A case had been taken to court by a partner organization where children who are HIV positive were precluded from accessing public education. The law prohibits discrimination in access to education.

The HIV and AIDs Prevention and Control Act, No 14 of 2006

The CRADLE together with other organizations lobbied towards a framework for the protection of persons living with HIV/AIDs and child orphans of HIV/AIDs.   It is an Act of Parliament that seeks “to provide measures for the prevention, management and control of HIV and AIDS, to provide for the protection and promotion of public health and for the appropriate treatment, counseling, support and care of persons infected or at risk of HIV and AIDS infection, and for connected purposes”.  Several cases had been reported of children discriminated against because of their HIV status.  Chambers of Justice organization undertook an impact litigation case challenging the discrimination of children from Nyumbani Children’s home in joining public schools.  This law outlaws discrimination of children with HIV/AIDs.  It also has other positive provisions relating to children.

The Water Act, Cap 372, 2002

The CRADLE together with other CSOs provided input into this law that seeks to provide conservation for and access to water.  The CRADLE was the main agency that mainstreamed child rights issues in this Bill.  The project was part of the program MAINAC, mentioned under policy interventions.

Mainstreaming Child Rights in other laws

The organization has also mainstreamed child rights in relation to other pieces of legislation including the following laws:

  • Legal Aid Act, 2016;
  • National Cohesion and Integration Act, 2014;
  • National Gender and Equality Commission Act, 2012;
  • Persons with Disability Act, 2003;
  • Refugee Act, 2019; amongst others


Children in Governance and Justice Project

The aim of this project is to ensure that children are at the heart of policy and governance issues.  The CRADLE has worked with the government in several policy and governance initiatives to ensure that children’s rights are mainstreamed as follows.

Mainstreaming in Action Initiative

The Government of Kenya in partnership with SIDA, CIDA, DANIDA, and selected CSOs, initiated a project to mainstream human rights and other cross-cutting issues such as the rule of law, gender, women’s rights, children’s rights, disability rights, HIV AIDs, and the environment in policy, law and programs of the Government of Kenya.  The CRADLE was selected to represent child rights issues.  The program was undertaken in 7 government Ministries including the Ministry of Water; the Ministry of Planning and Development; the Ministry of Health; the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Justice; and the Ministry of Roads.  Government Programs were audited for compliance with human rights standards on inclusion, non-discrimination, participation of communities and the provision of a system of redress in case of grievances.  Through this process there is evidence of lasting changes in the way the government does its business.  Women who were not allowed in certain fields such as road construction, are now very actively involved.  Indeed, the government has now formally introduced this as a policy requirement for all projects and programs.  Children are also allowed to be involved but with clear framework about age, supervision and the kind of work they can do.  The Water Act and several other pieces of legislation were audited for compliance and Water User’s Associations was introduced as a consequence.

The CRADLE undertook the training of road engineers, agricultural extension officers, amongst others, on mainstreaming human rights including child rights issues, in their work. Some of the issues that were highlighted for roads engineers in the construction process in relation to children include:

  • Ensuring the provision of road safety issues during construction;
  • Training contractors to ensure the protection of children against sexual abuse and exploitation of child labour;
  • Ensuring protection against environmental hazards for children, amongst other issues.
Governance, Justice, Law and Order Sector Reform Initiative

Kenya has had a long history with the need to reform the GJLOs sector.  There were a lot of expectations after independence for a government for the people and by the people who had people’s interest at heart.  Unfortunately, the space for democratic governance, enjoyment of rights, access to justice and inclusion started contracting instead of expanding and especially with the centralized government in a one-party state.  The government tried to address this in 1982 by establishing the KLRC who at that point did not achieve much due to the prevailing governance structure and situation. Kenyans started agitating for reforms and in 1991, multi-partyism was introduced.  This pluralism did not bring the much-expected change and the abuse of human rights including children’s rights became a common feature of Kenya’s life.  In 1992 the government established Special Task Forces and Commissions of Inquiry to change the GJLOs landscape.    Some laws including those affecting women and children were targeted.  Other initiatives thereafter that were not as successful like their predecessors included the 1998 Judicial Committee to study and make recommendations on the administration of Justice and the same year the Legal Sector Reform Coordinating Committee was established and the Legal Sector Reform Program launched in 2000.

The Kibaki government was shortly thereafter elected in 2002 on a reform agenda. The government developed an Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth Creation (ERSWC) to promote economic recovery.  It recognized the centrality of GJLOs reforms in the economic recovery strategy.  This set up the pace for the GJLOs program.

The GJLOs program was a reform program that set to reform institutions by strengthening their capacity and initiating culture change with a view to enhancing service delivery.  It also sought to enhance sector coordination and build public confidence in institutions in the sector.  It was housed by the then Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs, (MOJNCCA) and incorporated both state and non-state actors.  The CRADLE was the chair of the CSOs Caucus to GJLOs and sat at the highest decision-making organ of the GJLOs, the Technical Coordinating Committee, the TCC.   Some of the Key results areas were:

Key Result 1: Responsive and Enforceable Policy, Law and Regulations

Key Result 2: Improve Service Delivery by GJLOS Institutions

Key Result 3: Reduce Corruption-Related Impunity

Key Result 4: Improved Access to the poor, marginalized and vulnerable

Key Result 5: Develop more informed and participatory citizenry and non-state actors

Key Result 6: Effective management and coordination of GJLOS Reform Programme

There were a number of outcomes from the program including the following:

  1. Initiating the process of engendering the Police to a Service and not a Force;
  2. Gender desks were created in the Police and other ministries;
  3. A framework for legal education was developed.
  4. 88 pieces of legislation were highlighted for review for compliance with the Constitution through the Thematic Law Review Groups and several pieces of legislation were enacted including the Political Parties Bill, Witness Protection Act, Prisons Act, Water Act, amongst others).
  5. The famous Prison Reforms were undertaken.
  6. Cross-cutting issues including children rights, gender, disability, and environment were mainstreamed in the Departmental budgets.


Technical Advisory on Children Project

Under this project, The CRADLE offered technical advisory role to several government agencies on child rights as follows:

 National Steering Committee on Counter on Trafficking in Persons

Due to The CRADLE’s wealth of knowledge on counter-trafficking initiatives, the organization was appointed to the National Steering Committee on Counter Trafficking in Persons where part of the task is to monitor the implementation of the Counter Trafficking in Persons Act and international conventions on Trafficking including the Palermo Protocol, a supplement to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (2000) and two other ILO conventions that focus on forced labour or services: The ILO Forced Labour Convention (Convention No. 29 of 1930) and the ILO Abolition of Forced Labour Convention (Convention No. 105 of 1957).

 Committee on National Policy and National Action Plan on Children 2008

The Children Act was enacted in 2001 without a policy framework.  The National Children Policy was developed later in 2010 and the plan of Action 2015-2022 developed thereafter.  The process was spearheaded by the National Council for Children Services, NCCS and involved both State actors and Non-State Actors.  The CRADLE was involved in the process together with other Non-State Actors.

The policy goals are based on the key pillars of child rights as articulated in the UNCRC, 1989. These are Survival Rights, Development Rights, Protection Rights and Participation Rights.

The Policy Vision is to create an environment where all the rights of a child in Kenya will be fulfilled. The overall goal of the policy is to realize and safeguard the rights and welfare of the child. The specific policy objectives include the following:

  1. To provide a framework for addressing issues related to children’s rights and welfare in a holistic and focused manner.
  2. To act as a regulatory framework to coordinate the many related policies and legislations that are geared towards the promotion of children’s rights.
  3. To provide direction and purpose in establishing social and child protection mechanisms while mobilizing resources for action.
  4. To act as a criterion for evaluating and monitoring the implementation of various legislations, policies and programmes on issues related to children.

 Task Force on the National Plan of Action on Human Rights

In August 2005 a multi-stakeholder National Steering Committee was established
to provide leadership for the development of a National Policy and Action Plan on Human Rights. The Committee members were drawn from various Government Ministries, civil society organizations, trade unions and the private sector.  The CRADLE was a member of the committee.

The Policy and Action Plan was developed by the government in recognition of its primary responsibility to observe, respect, protect, promote and fulfill the rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Constitution of Kenya, 2010. Its purpose
was to give effect to Chapter IV of the Constitution by providing a comprehensive
and coherent framework that elaborates broad human rights principles to guide the
Government and other actors in carrying out their work in a way that enhances the
enjoyment of rights by the people of Kenya.

Multi-sector thematic working groups were constituted to bring in specialist expertise to the process. In October 2006, a National Stakeholders’ Conference was successfully held to officially launch the process and to develop consensus on
the process to be adopted in the formulation of the policy.

The development of the Policy and Action Plan was spearheaded by the then Ministry of Justice,
National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs (MOJNCCA) and the Kenya
National Commission on Human Rights, (KNCHR).

 Task Force on the Implementation of the Sexual Offences Act

The Task Force on Implementation of the Sexual Offences Act (TFSOA) was established by the Attorney General on March 16, 2007, via Gazette Notice 2155. The Task Force’s mandate was to oversee the implementation of Kenya’s 2006 Sexual Offences Act. A critical but temporary monitoring body, the Task Force’s original period of appointment was set to expire on December 30, 2010. However, its appointment was later extended to December 31, 2012, by Gazette Notice No. 743 of January 21, 2011. The chair of the TFSOA was Hon.Lady Justice (Rtd.) Effie Owuor.  Its membership included representatives from both government and civil society.  The CRADLE was a member of the Task Force.

The Task Force’s responsibilities were to develop and oversee the implementation and administration of the SOA. It was also charged with ensuring consistency among the Act and other existing laws, policies, regulations, and customs. It was also responsible for overseeing all research, public education, and sensitization campaigns necessary to fulfill its mandate and promote the objectives of the SOA.

The TFSOA boasts of many achievements including the following:

  1. The Development of the Sexual Offences Regulations;
  2. The Development of a National Policy Framework on the Act;
  3. Training of prosecutors, state counsels and police officers on the Sexual Offences Act;
  4. Public awareness and outreach programmes;
  5. The development of an Action Plan on One Stop Centres / Referral Mechanisms to foster multi-sectoral collaboration;
  6. The revision of the Prosecutor’s manual on sexual violence by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions
  7. The Development of the Investigators manual including framing of model charges under the Sexual Offences Act done by the Police Department
  8. The setting up of Gender Desks by the Police Department across police stations in Kenya;
  9. The development of a Gender police training manual in conjunction with FIDA-Kenya;
  10. The Incorporation of SOA provisions in the induction curriculum of Chiefs and Assistant Chiefs by the Ministry of Provincial Administration and Internal Security;
  11. The development of the National Guidelines for the Management of Sexual Violence and the Post Rape Care Form by the Ministry of Medical Services;
  12. The development of the Teachers Service Commission Circular relating to sexual abuse in schools; and
  13. The development of the Ministry of Education Guidelines on sexual violence in schools.
 The National Council on the Administration of Justice

The National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ) was formally launched on 11 August 2011 and established under Section 34 of the Judicial Service Act (No. 1 of 2011). It is a high-level policymaking, implementation and oversight coordinating mechanism, comprising State and Non-State actors from the justice sector.  The CRADLE is a member of the NCAJ and sits in the Special Task Force on Children and in the National Committee on Criminal Justice Reforms- NCCJR.

Technical Committee on the Establishment of a National Legal Aid Scheme

This Technical committee was set up to review the legal framework on Access to Justice and to make recommendations on improvement of the same.  The Committee made recommendations for the need for a law, the National Legal Aid Act and the establishment of a National Legal Aid Scheme- NLAS. The CRADLE was a member of this committee. A Legal Aid Act was passed and a NLAS set up.

 Intersex Persons Implementation & Coordination Committee

The CRADLE undertook pioneering work in the protection of intersex persons by undertaking a public interest case on an intersex child seeking to compel the government to make provisions for intersex children in schools.  The CRADLE was thereafter appointed as a member of the Intersex Persons Implementation Committee, IPICC that is working on issues of Intersex persons.  Based on the work of the Committee, the government has for the first time undertaken a census of intersex persons in Kenya.  The CRADLE is currently partnering with different agencies on the review of laws to ensure Intersex persons are recognized and protected in law;

Child Rights Education and Awareness Program - CREAP

In dealing with cases reported to the organization, it soon became evident that many cases were compromised out of ignorance of the law by claims holders or the public thereby leading to low conviction rates even in obvious cases and also making it difficult to hold to account duty-bearers when matters are not handled well.  For instance, when a child is defiled, the first reaction by the parent is to wash the child, yet this destroys the evidence.  At times the prosecution fails to call witnesses thus compromising cases.  The Child Rights Education and Awareness Program-CREAP, was initiated to create awareness and to empower communities to better claim their rights.  This was done through several projects listed below.

Safe Horizon and Letter- Link Project (Girls SHALL)

The CRADLE officially launched the Girls SHALL- The Girls Safe Horizon and Letter Link Project in 2007. This was a twin project in both primary and secondary schools with the Letter Link focusing on primary schools and the Safe Horizon focusing on secondary schools.

The Safe Horizon Project seeks to make schools ‘safe horizons’ for girls where they can share information that contributes to the enhancement of their safety and well-being without fear of intimidation, being judged or discriminated against.  The project has been implemented in a number of schools­ in Nairobi and its environs including-State House Girls, Ngara Girls, St. George’s Girls, Our Lady of Mercy, Huruma Girls, Langata High School and Masai Girls.  In Mbita and Suba South it has been implemented in Sindo Girls, Nyamasare Girls,Waware Mixed Secondary, St.Margaret Girls and Rusinga Girls.

The Letter Link Project is implemented through Letter Link Clubs with key focus on child protection. The organization offers talks in schools and then provides “safe boxes” where the children can drop in cases, raise questions or concerns and the organization then responds anonymously through a Letter Link Magazine.  Some of the schools that have been involved include Uhuru, Lavington, Kilimani, St. George’s, Joseph Kang’ethe, Dr. Livingstone, Milimani, and State House Primary schools in Nairobi.  Outside Nairobi the schools that have been involved include Nyamuga, Mbita Point International School (MPIS), Lambwe Primary School, amongst others.

Teachers have been trained under the same project and manuals and handbooks developed such as “Making Schools a Safe Horizon for Girls” which book received regional recognition for the protection of girls.

The SHELF Project

The SHELF project is pretty much like the Girls SHALL but with additional focus on intergenerational exchange and personal development.  The target group includes older students in high schools and also young adults in colleges.  It focused mainly in schools in Nairobi.

Legal Bazaars and Clinics Project

Given that many people are generally unaware of the law as well as unable to afford personal legal fees to handle their matters, The CRADLE has in the past held several legal bazaars and clinics to offer legal advice to persons in need.

The bazaars have been held in over 20 towns inclulding Meru, Suba, Kisumu, Maseno, Narok, Kajiado, Garissa, Kwale, Nairobi- (Mukuru, Soweto, California, Eastleigh), Kuria, Lodwar, Katilu, Malindi, Machakos, Luanda, Kilifi, and Nyando.

In order to attain high impact, the bazaars and clinics use popular community activities such as football tournaments such as an Annual Soccer Tournament in Suba (Kick Child Abuse out of Suba) and market days. The methods employed also included participatory education theatre (PET).

Paralegal Project

The CRADLE has trained hundreds of paralegals all over the country to provide access to justice for communities that ordinarily have limited access to justice. These paralegals are then tasked with offering legal assistance in some instances and also making referrals where a case is technical or complex.  These paralegal trainings have been undertaken in areas including Suba, Malindi, Nairobi (Kibera, Mukuru) Garissa, Kwale, Nakuru, Kisumu, Sindo, Mfangano, Lambwe and Rusinga.  The paralegal training is structured into 4 levels that include 1) Human Rights; 2) Child Rights; 3) The Children Act; 4) The Laws relating to children such as Sexual Offences Act; Victim Protection Act; The Criminal and Civil Litigation Process; amongst others.

 Duty bearers Project

The CRADLE has also trained several duty-bearers at different levels on their roles in protecting children and enhancing access to justice for children. This included:

  1. Prisons Paralegal Program where there was training of warders in Shikusa, Shimo La Tewa, YCTC and Langata Women’s Prisons.
  2. Training of Health Care Providers in the management of survivors of sexual violence;
  3. Community leaders training in Magadi;
  4. Training of teachers in Nairobi, Suba and Turkana;
  5. Training of Community Health Workers in Turkana;
  6. Training Frontline workers such as Magistrates, Prosecutors, the Police, Children’s Officers;
  7. Training religious leaders including nuns on the issues of Trafficking in Persons and SGBV;
  8. Training of Bankers on child rights.

Research, Monitoring and Documentation Program  

Sometimes in representing children, it becomes apparent that there is increasing violence of a particular type or in a particular area.  This necessitates research and documentation to better understand and appreciate the trend.  Sometimes it may be apparent that the challenge is the law, for instance in the case of sexual offences, the main reason most culprits were able to go scot-free for a long time is because of the defects in law at that time.  This necessitated research for purposes of policy advocacy.  The RMD Program responds to this need by undertaking research, monitoring trends in child rights protection and documenting findings that are then used for policy advocacy.

The RMD Program also monitors implementation of both international and national obligations on child rights. The Program works through the following projects:

International Obligations Monitoring Project

Kenya is a signatory to several international and regional conventions in relation to the rights of the child including the CRC, CEDAW, ACRWC, amongst others.  Each of these treaties have a monitoring mechanism to ensure the country complies with the treaties.  The CRADLE has worked closely with several international and regional agencies in ensuring that Kenya complies with the obligations.  Some of the engagements under this project have included the following.

Consultative Committee on International Human Rights Obligations 2009

The government of Kenya established an inter-governmental committee on human rights in 2009 under the then MOJNCCA ministry.  It was tasked with the mandate to advise the government on measures necessary to comply with its international and regional human rights obligations and specifically to co-ordinate and prepare reports to and engage with international and regional human rights mechanisms and to co-ordinate and track national follow-up and implementation of the treaty obligations and the recommendations emanating from these mechanisms.

The CRADLE was a member of this Committee and through this mechanism was involved in reporting in respect of a number of treaties including the CRC, CEDAW, CERD, CAT, ICCPR, amongst others.

 Kenya’s Stakeholders Coalition for the UPR Process- CSOs Steering Committee

The CRADLE was part of the CSO Steering Committee of the Kenya Stakeholder’s Coalition for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Process.  The UPR is a process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States. The mechanism was established when the Human Rights Council was created on 15 March 2006 by the UN General Assembly in resolution 60/251.  It is based on equal treatment for all countries and provides an opportunity for all States to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights. The UPR is designed to promote, support, and expand the promotion and protection of human rights on the ground. To achieve this, the UPR involves assessing States’ human rights records and addressing human rights violations wherever they occur. The UPR also aims to provide technical assistance to States and enhance their capacity to deal effectively with human rights challenges and to share best practices in the field of human rights among States and other stakeholders.  Currently, no other mechanism of this kind exists.  The CRADLE together with other CSOs were involved in the first cycle of the UPR process that Kenya participated in.

 The NGO Advisory Panel for the UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children

The World Report on Violence against Children (VAC) was commissioned by the UN Secretary General as the first comprehensive global attempt to describe the scale of all forms of violence against children and its impact. The report approaches the issue of VAC from a combined perspective of human rights, public health and child protection. The participatory processes which led to this report brought together the experience of governments, international organizations, civil society organizations, research institutions and children. This report asserts that no violence against children is justifiable and all forms of violence are preventable. The commitments made at international and national levels and the accumulated knowledge described in the report gives the necessary tools to protect children from violence, to prevent it from happening in the first place, and to mitigate the consequences.

A 24-member NGO Advisory Panel on Children was established to provide a forum of engagement by NGOs in this process.  The CRADLE was the NGO representing Africa in this process.

The CRADLE also became the national NGO focal point for the collection of research and information for this process and was commissioned to undertake the technical drafting of the Kenyan Report by UNICEF.

 Individual Complaints Procedure under the UNCRC Mechanism

The UN is an international organization founded in 1945 and is comprised of 193 Member States. Traditionally, it is the Member States that have been allowed to raise issues with the UN.  However, since the early 1970s the UN has developed mechanisms to allow complaint from individuals concerning violations of their rights contained in the nine so-called “core” human rights treaties including (i) the ICCPR; (ii) ICESCR; (iii) CEDAW; (iv) CERD; (v) CAT; (vi) CRPWD; (vii) the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances; (viii) the International Convention on the Protection of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families; and the CRC and its Optional Protocols on involvement of children in armed conflict and on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.   On 19th December 2011, the UN General Assembly approved a third Optional Protocol on a communications procedure, which will allow individual children to submit complaints regarding specific violations of their rights under the Convention and the first two Optional Protocols.  The Optional Protocol entered into force in April 2014.

The CRADLE was part of the NGO network that advocated for this third Optional Protocol and handed over a Memorandum on the same to the then Minister for MOJNCCA in 2008.  Even though Kenya supported this process, it is yet to ratify the third Optional Protocol.

 Child Rights Information and Documentation-CRID Project

The objectives of the CRID Project are:

  1. To undertake an in-depth analysis of a problematic or potentially problematic or complex issue affecting children;
  2. To unearth and simplify the problems or complexities in relation to child rights and highlight the core causes of the problem;
  3. To ensure a common and better understanding of the problem by all actors;
  4. To develop a sense of empathy and shared ethos by duty-bearers and claims-holders on the issue of child rights;
  5. To assist in seeking a joint, informed, relevant and realistic solution;
  6. To identify the core actors and intervention points including policy and legislative intervention points.

Through this project, the organization undertook research and documentation through thematic series as follows

  1. Annual Case Trends Monitor-ACTs Monitor

Thousands of cases were reported to The CRADLE annually.  From the cases, it was possible to decipher certain trends in child rights issues.  The CRADLE hence undertook Annual Case Trends Monitor based on reported cases and also from newspaper reports.  The publications are as provided below and are available online.  The target group for this annual publication is mainly child rights practitioners including lawyers, prosecutors, magistrates, law and policy makers and others in the justice system.

  1. Juvenile Justice Journal-JJJ

This is an annual in-depth study on emerging child justice issues from the law courts.  The Journal documents emerging jurisprudence in Kenya and beyond and tests fidelity to the CRC and other conventions that Kenya is a party to.

  1. Juvenile Justice Quarterlies-JJQs

This provides news on cases on child rights world-wide without going into in-depth analysis.  It seeks to inform lawyers of development in the justice sector world-wide as relates to children.

  1. Child Rights Comics

These target primarily children and they are developed on various issues including trafficking, child-online abuse and other issues;

  1. Letter-Link

This is a magazine for pupils and students in primary and secondary schools that addresses issues raised in the school clubs anonymously;

  1. Training Manuals

These are developed for trainers on various issues including a three-step training manual for lawyers; Counter-Trafficking in Persons Manual; Victim Protection Manual amongst others;

  1. Guides and Handbooks

These are books developed for professionals working with children to guide them in dealing with children and include Trauma Guide; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Guide; Guide on Children in Conflict with the law; and Self-Representation Handbook amongst others;

  1. Information Packs

These are simple and easy reference books for those working with children and covering various issues such as children in armed conflict; domestic violence; sexual abuse, trafficking in persons; amongst others.

  1. Policy Papers and Briefs

The CRADLE has developed several policy papers and briefs to advocate for child rights inclusion in legislation.  These have included policy briefs on Sexual Offences Act; Counter Trafficking in Persons Act; Age of Criminal Responsibility; Mental health; Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights; the Romeo and Juliet clauses in the Sexual Offences Act; amongst others.  The policy paper is well-researched and detailed.  The policy brief is a simplified, easy to refer to document for policy makers and legislators.

  1. Research on Child Rights

The CRADLE has undertaken cutting-edge research on various issues on child rights including trafficking in persons (Broken Promises); Sexual Violence; Mental Health and Child-Online abuse, amongst others.

The Publications

Case Trends Monitor Publications


Juvenile Justice Journal


Juvenile Justice Quarterly


Child Rights Comics

Letter Link and Safe Horizon Magazines



Training Manuals


Guides and Handbooks



Information Packs



Policy Papers and Briefs


Research and Reports on Child Rights





Access to Justice Program

Access to Justice Program primarily provides justice for children in contact with the justice system as victims of crime or as perpetrators of crime.  The CRADLE has offered direct legal representation to over 20,000 children in over 20 years and impacted over 10 million children through impact litigation.  The Access to Justice Program has several components including: Legal Aid Clinics; Impact Litigation; Psychosocial Support; Referrals; Fact-Finding Initiatives, Rescue and Placements.

Impact Litigation Project                                      

Impact litigation refers to a case whose impact is felt way beyond the individual person complaining or presenting the case.  Aside from the direct individual cases handled, the CRADLE has taken up several impact litigation cases that have impacted well over 10 million children in Kenya.

Children Born out of Wedlock: R.M vs the Attorney General of Kenya

It could be safely stated that at least 2 out of every 5 women have children born out of wedlock.  This is because of early on-set of pregnancies by girls who do not marry the fathers of the child or children.  There are also many women who have by choice had children outside lawful wedlock and many other women who have had unplanned pregnancies by men not married to them.  Section 24 (3) of the Children Act, No. 8 of 2001 has discriminatory provisions in relation to children born out of wedlock.  Where a child’s father and mother were not married to each other at the time of the child’s birth and have not subsequently married each other, the law provides that “(a) the mother shall have parental responsibility at the first instance; (b) the father shall subsequently acquire parental responsibility for the child in accordance with the provisions of section 25”.  This means that the decision on whether or not to assume parental responsibility by a father of a child born out of wedlock is discretionary under the Children Act.  The CRADLE undertook an impact litigation case, R.M (a 2-year-old child suing through her mother), vs the Attorney General of Kenya.  In this case R.M argued that the provision of the Act is unconstitutional since it allows for discrimination of children born out of wedlock.  The matter was heard by a 3-bench Constitutional Court that refused to grant the prayers sought.  The CRADLE later advocated for the express provision of this Article in the constitution that now protects children born out of wedlock.

Children in conflict with law: Republic vs SA

In this case, a 12-old girl, SA was hired as a nanny.  She was alleged to have killed the child she was taking care of by drowning him in a pond.  She was charged with murder and several rights relating to children in contact with the justice system were violated in respect to her case.  The CRADLE challenged the matter in the High Court of Kenya and the orders sought by the organization were granted including the fact that children should only be detained as a means of last resort.  She was hence tried while out of custody.

Right to Legal Representation: W vs the Republic

The Children Act provided for legal representation for children in conflict with the law.  However, despite this provision, several children continued to be presented in court without the benefit of legal representation thereby resulting in injustice for them.  The CRADLE took up a matter in Bungoma Law Courts where a young teenage boy was charged with causing an accident by hitting his bicycle against a car.  The CRADLE challenged the proceedings based on the fact that the boy did not have legal representation which is against the law.  The High Court agreed with The CRADLE.

Right of children with disabilities: The CRADLE vs Nation Media Group

The CRADLE sued the Nation Media in relation to broadcasting that did not take into account children with audio impairments.  The CRADLE wanted the Nation to be compelled to make provision for sign language to ensure inclusion of children with hearing disabilities.  The matter was ruled in favour of The CRADLE and the Nation Media group has appealed and the matter is pending in court. However, all media houses now provide sign language as part of their broadcast.

Ensuring Safety of children in schools by holding TSC accountable in cases of SGBV perpetrated by teachers: The CRADLE vs TSC

The CRADLE sued the TSC seeking to hold it accountable in cases where teachers are convicted of defilement and rape.  The CRADLE’s argument is that the TSC as the employer of the teachers, has promoted a culture of impunity by not taking stringent measures when their employees sexually violate children.  The TSC by action is deemed to have acquiesced or been complicit by not taking action against errant teachers. The matter has also been appealed and is pending in Court.

Protection of Minority Children: The Nubian Children’s Case

Nubians are a community of about 100,000 that are originally from the Sudan.  They were brought to Kenya over 100 years ago to fight for the British Riffles but were never taken back to the Sudan after independence.  They have settled mainly around Kibra, Kisumu and the Coastal region and to all extent and purposes are now Kenyan. The government of Kenya has however refused to acknowledge them as such and they are often treated as second class citizens.  They lack citizenship rights, rights to own property, access other social amenities at par with other Kenyans.  The CRADLE supported the KNCHR who brought up a constitutional reference case challenging this status and the matter was eventually decided by the ACHR.

Seeking inclusion of Intersex Children

The CRADLE sough the formal and legal inclusion of intersex children.  Intersex children are not legally recognized making it difficult for the government to plan for them and with them.  Since the matter, a Task Force on Intersex persons was set up and the government undertook a cencus on Intersex persons for the first time.

Legal Aid Clinics

Legal Advice and Representation

The CRADLE has provided over 20,000 children and their guardians with legal advice and court representation within the over 20-year period under this segment of Access to Justice.  The organization ran Legal Aid Clinics in different parts of the country through which children and their parents could receive legal assistance and representation. The main Legal Aid Clinic is in Nairobi but the organization ran Satellite clinics in different towns.  Save for the Nairobi Clinic, the other Satellite clinics are currently not operational due to limited funds.  The Legal Aid Clinics operated in the following towns:

  • Nairobi: Main Clinic
  • Mombasa
  • Kwale
  • Kisumu
  • Garissa
  • Mbita

The clinics dealt with a myriad of cases but mainly relating to the following:

  • Children in need of care and protection of the law including victims of sexual abuse, child victims of trafficking, child neglect and abuse. These form almost 70% of the cases handled at The CRADLE;
  • Family law matters that include custody, guardianship, child support, and adoption. These forms about 20% of cases;
  • Succession matters that form about 5% of the cases;
  • Other matters that relate to any other issue affecting a child or a class of children constitute about 5%.
Legal Ambulatory Services

As part of the Legal Aid Clinic, The CRADLE launched the first and only Legal Ambulance to undertake legal first aid where children needed urgent legal support including rescue.  The Legal Ambulance undertook several fact-finding missions, representation in remote areas, and rescue missions for children in need of care and support.


Given that the number of cases are numerous and The CRADLE may not be in a position to represent all cases pertaining to children, the organization has also run a project on Self-Representation.  This involves cases that are not complex. The organization assists the clients to draft pleadings to be presented in court and then guides them step by step as the matter progresses.  The organization has developed a hand-book on self-representation protocols to assist clients.

Pro-bono Lawyers’ Scheme

The CRADLE has for a long time run the best Pro bono lawyers’ scheme in the country.  Many institutions have used the scheme as a bench-mark.  The organization successfully trained an estimated 500 plus pro-bono lawyers at an average of 25 per year for over 20 years.  The scheme is a well-structured program with the following:

  1. Training and Capacity Building

The CRADLE runs a 3-level training for pro bono lawyers on: (a) Public interest lawyering; (b) child rights and child psychology; and (c) international conventions and national laws on child rights.

  1. Regional Committees of Pro bono Lawyers

This is a Regional Pro bono Lawyers’ Network in the Country and includes networks in Nakuru, Kisumu, Mombasa, Meru, amongst others.  The networks focus on areas of child justice that are germane to the region and provide an annual report at the Annual Pro bono Lawyer’s conference.  Some of the regional schemes branched out to be independent entities such as the Nakuru and Kisumu branches.

  1. Juvenile Justice Network in Africa

The Regional Africa Juvenile Justice Network- RAJNET focused on developments on child justice in the African region. The developments have been shared annually through the annual Pro bono Lawyers’ conference;

  1. Annual Learning Conference

This is an annual Pro bono Lawyers’ Conference that monitors trends and developments in the child justice sector in Africa.  The conference provided a learning platform from which good practices could be attained. Through this process, The CRADLE was able to work closely with the South African counterparts in the development of the Sexual Offences Act and Uganda was thereafter able to borrow from the experience of Kenya in the enactment of the Sexual Offences Act.  It hence served as a useful platform for information sharing and learning good practices;

  1. Referral and Representation

The CRADLE referred several cases to pro bono lawyers and through an elaborate monitoring process, was able to keep track of the cases and to provide technical support on more complex cases. 

  1. Award Scheme

Given that the Pro bono Scheme is a voluntary scheme, The CRADLE initiated the Pro bono Lawyer of the Year Award Scheme to recognize lawyers that had done exemplary work for children.  Some of the pro bono lawyers were later appointed judges and include Justice Roseline Aburili; Justice Luka Kimaru; Justice Helen Wasilwa, Justice David Mugo, amongst others. 

  1. The Annual Children Justice Conference

The conference would run alongside the Annual Pro bono Lawyers’ conference and allow children in contact with the law to engage in depth with pro bono lawyers and share their experiences at the conference.

Referral Services to other Institutions

The CRADLE also referred and continues to refer cases to other organizations that may be suitably placed to handle such matter/s.  For instance, a woman may come to the organization with a case of child support but after screening, if it appears she also needs to file a case for divorce or division of matrimonial property, the organization may then refer her case to FIDA.  In cases of torture, the organization refers cases to PAT and in cases related to land, the cases are be referred to Kituo Cha Sheria.

Fact-Finding Investigations; Rescues and Placements

Fact-Finding Investigations or FFIs determine fully and credibly, what happened with respect to a particular incident- whether a suspected or reported incident did or did not take place, what the circumstances were, who was involved, and whether a violation of law did occur.

FFIs are often conducted when a case is reported by a third party who may not have full details of the case or where the person reporting does not appear to have full facts yet it is a matter warranting quick action.  For instance, when a neighbor suspects that there is a trafficking ring or where a neighbor suspects a child is being abused but does not have full facts, an FFI may be undertaken to ascertain the veracity of the allegations.  An FFI may also be undertaken in relation to a matter reported in the Media.

Rescues and Placements, (RAPs) often follow a number of FFIs.  Depending on the nature of the case, a RAP may follow an FFI either immediately or subsequently.  In potentially volatile situations, the organization may request the presence of a Children Officer or a Police Officer in the mission.  In case it is discovered that there is on-going abuse, the child will be rescued and placed with an already identified place of safety such as a Children’s Home.

The CRADLE has undertaken several FFIs and RAPs to protect children. Most FFIs relate to criminal cases.  However, the organization also undertook several FFIs in relation to civil cases.

An FFI Case: Mary and Esther

An example of an FFI undertaken in the past involved two children- Mary and Esther (not their real names). Their parents had died and they were left in the care of their older brother who was a lawyer.  He started selling off the parents’ property and had allegedly made the youngest sister a wife.  She was no longer attending school.  She was rescued by The CRADLE, placed in a place of safety and readmitted to school.  She passed with a grade B and joined University.  The brother was arrested but was not convicted.

Psychosocial Support Initiative-PSI

Many children who come to The CRADLE are children who have been victims of sexual and other forms of abuse.  Unfortunately, in cases of abuse it is not only the child that is traumatized but sometimes even the parents and the front-line workers get traumatized. The CRADLE initiated the PSI to support children regain control of their lives.

The case of Stella

Stella was 3 years old at the time she was sexually abused by her neighbor who was a prison warder.  Stella had to undergo 7 reconstructive surgeries and lost her uterus.  The neighbor was jailed for a short period and released.  Stella has to live with the fact that she was not only abused, but that she will never have children while her abuser went almost scot-free.

A child who goes through a traumatic experience like this gets traumatized. The parents get traumatized. Front-line workers dealing with such cases get traumatized.  The CRADLE staff deal with several of these kinds of cases daily and many get burnt out.  The CRADLE has offered the following psychosocial support:

  • Individual and Group therapy

The CRADLE has supported several children together with their parents and guardians through both individual and group therapy sessions. The CRADLE provided trained counselors who offered pre-and post-trial psychosocial support to children to enable them give evidence without intimidation and fear and to enable them cope with the trauma of abuse.  

  • Psychosocial Debriefing for Front-line workers

Psychological debriefing is a formal version of providing emotional and psychological support immediately following a traumatic event; the goal is to prevent the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other negative sequelae. The CRADLE is cognizant of the fact that dealing with cases of child abuse is often very traumatizing for child justice providers, consequently the organization has also offered psychosocial debriefing to front-line workers including the organizational staff and magistrates working with children.

Child-Help Desks

The organization also ran child help desks in 3 courts in Eldoret, Nairobi and Mombasa to enable better access to justice for children and to offer psychosocial support.