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Print this pageSOUTH AFRICA: Legal guide to challenging breaches of children's rights




Child Rights International Network

Resource type:

Publication (general)


Emma Lecheko


The author of this report would like to thank Carina du Toit BA LLB, LLM (Child law) and Prinslean Mahery LLB, LLM (Childlaw), both of whom are employed at the Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria, South Africa for their input.

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Download a summary  case law which refers to articles of the CRC.


South Africa became a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on 16 June 1995. It ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child on 7 January 2000.

South Africa’s Constitution sets out a bill of rights for everyone, but Section 28 contains specific rights for children. This section has been used to litigate a number of cases where child rights have been breached to the Constitutional court. The Court's interpretation of these rights has led to a growing body of child rights jurisprudence.

The Constitution is complemented by a national child rights strategy which involves every government department in its implementation.

Most cases brought before the Constitutional Court have concerned Article 3 of the UN Convention which provides that the best interests of the child should be of paramount importance. This principle is contained in section 28(2) of the South African Constitution.

Another flagship case has ruled that a blanket ban on corporal punishment did not violate the rights of parents to practice their religion freely. Other recent cases have ensured children in conflict with the law are detained as a last resort and for the shortest possible as, despite a Child Justice Bill which was passed in 2002, South Africa still does not have a separate juvenile justice system.

This legal guide to child rights in South Africa includes existing legislation, analysis of measures South Africa has taken to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child, case law which refers to articles of the CRC, and avenues for seeking redress for violations of children's rights.

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Child Rights International Network
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2 Pontypool Place
Tel: +44 (0)207 401 2257

Last updated 20/11/2008 06:51:03

Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.

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