Chief Magistrate Calls for Probation Officers

| May 28, 2015

Maun chief magistrate, Mr Mompati Taolo has emphasised the need for government to appoint probation officers who will promote just and fair justice in prosecuting cases involving children.

He said probation officers were critical stakeholders in dealing with children facing charges as they would be responsible for the supervision of offenders.

Mr Taolo said probation officers would able to monitor the situation of the victim, report back to court and also make proper recommendations which would assist them to make the right decisions.

He was speaking during a panel discussion on a topic dubbed “Legislation on child issues in Botswana Children in conflict with the law.”

Mr Taolo called on Botswana National Association of Social Workers (BONASW) to engage the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development to appoint such officers as they play an important role as far as children coming into conflict with the law issues are concerned.

He said the probation order would explain to children what was expected and what had to be done, adding that about four to five officers would do for a start-up.

He said by so doing, the government would be acting in the best interests of the child with a view to protect his or her rights.

Mr Taolo explained that in actual practice the court only attend cases after registration noting that the court rely much on services of the social workers to act.

He said failure to provide adequate information or well written report would prejudice justice as the case would be thrown out while on the other hand the concerned child has been traumatised.

The chief magistrate said the aim of the court is not to convict the culprit but to come up with just and fair conclusions.

He noted that the law gives options to sentence the child such as sentencing himher to community service, corporal punishment, sending the offender to a school of industries for a certain period or imprisonment.

Mr Taolo stated that for the court to make a decision of which options to take depends on a report given by the social worker. Social workers were aised not to be bias or give fabricated information because that would deny relevant people to give the right assistance.

He observed that it was unfortunate that there was no proper infrastructure or facilities to isolate victims from culprits during the trial.

He said at times the affected children become uncomfortable to give evidence while facing the culprit especially in cases of sexual abuse and emphasised the need to have proper facilities where children could enjoy freedom.

For her part, Ms Felistus Motimedi from BONELA said one of their responsibilities was to ensure services were geared towards children’s rights to education, survival, development, protection and participation.

She also acknowledged the non-discriminatory component which encourages equal treatment for all persons but noted that it was unfortunate that it did not clearly spell out children.

Ms Motimedi decried the number of social workers hired by Botswana Police Service noting that currently they have less than ten and yet they have many police stations.

She said there was need to hire more for cases such as defilement, violence and rape. Ms Motimedi said BONELA’s interest is to engage relevant stakeholders to address the loopholes in the legislations.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Governance

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