PRESS STATEMENT | World Children’s Day: Rising to the Challenge

Date: 20/11/2021

“Children are the soul of our society. If we fail them, then we have failed as a society.” – Judge Halima Salduker in S v Presiding Officer of the children’s Court: District of Krugersdorp 2012 (6) SA 45 (GSJ)

This World Children’s Day 2021, Save the Children (SCSA) in partnership with Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) are capacitating and empowering child protection actors with their joint “A PRACTICAL GUIDE: Documentation of Children in South Africa, Including Unaccompanied and Separated Migrant Children.”

More than a thousand hard- and e-copies of this guide is being distributed to social workers, caseworkers, social service professionals and community development workers, as well as community-based justice actors, like legal counsellors and paralegals, across South Africa.

SCSA is part of the world’s largest independent development and rights based organisation for children, represented in over 120 countries worldwide. SCSA believes every child deserves a bright future and has done extensive work in South Africa towards the promotion and protection of all children’s rights, including children on the move.

LHR is an independent human rights organisation that employs a holistic approach to social justice and human rights enforcement in South Africa through strategic litigation, advocacy, law reform, human rights education, and community mobilisation and support. LHR operates a Statelessness Project that advocates for legal identity for all in South Africa and the eradication of childhood statelessness

Children’s rights are entrenched in the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of South Africa. These rights apply to all children in South Africa and include; the right to education, the right to health care, the right to social assistance, as well as the right to be protected from maltreatment, abuse or degradation.

However, in order to secure these rights, children must be documented. Lack of documentation not only deprives children of their rights but impacts all areas of their life. They’re also exposed to serious child protection issues like arrest and detention, child-labour, child-marriage or human-trafficking and face an increased risk of childhood statelessness.

South Africa is a major destination for children on the move from the Eastern and Southern Africa regions. According to UNICEF’s latest data on migrant and displaced children, more than 642 000 migrant or displaced children live in South Africa and includes refugees, asylum seekers, victims of trafficking or smuggling, and unaccompanied and separated migrant children.

In launching this practical guide, SCSA and LHR will help build capacity on the ground. SCSA & LHR also calls upon government and non-government actors to “rise to the challenge” so no child in South Africa has to suffer the indignity of being undocumented, or face exclusion due to lack of documentation.
We also call upon duty bearers including policy makers to ensure implementation of existing policies and guidelines as shared in the guide booklet and to consider reviewing policies that perpetuates the risk of lack of documentation and childhood statelessness among children in South Africa.

For more information, you can contact:
Nyika Machenjedze:
Thandeka Chauke:
Tshegofatso Mothapo:


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