IN DEFENSE OF STREET CHILDREN
(Editorial published in collaboration with UNICEF, in Survival, the annual report of the Undugu Society of Kenya, 1994)
Being at the forefront of street children-related work in Kenya, it is sometimes necessary for the Undugu Society to assume the role of advocate. This is especially true when cases arise where it is obvious that the rights of the children, as espoused in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, have been violated. One such case occurred when government authorities decided to close down a rescue centre at Kariokor Market, one of the busiest sections of Nairobi. An extremely harsh crackdown left several boys incarcerated among adults- - a direct contradiction of the statutes related to child protection in Kenya. The boys were hounded and even physically assaulted during their ordeal. While it is true that many of these boys were not model citizens in any sense of the word, they are citizens, and human beings, nonetheless. And though we wish in all good conscience to be able to report that this incident was an isolated case of overzealousness by a few officials, we are sorry that our pursuit of the truth in such matters does not allow such a softening statement to be made. To the contrary, such occurrences are so commonplace that to report them regularly would entail the hiring of a full-time investigative reporter, to be assigned solely to the juvenile courthouse, the approved and remand school systems, and the police stations citywide. Reprinted here is the editorial column from the March 1994 edition of Flash, the in-house quarterly newsletter of Undugu.