By Sabina Elago
WINDHOEK– Young people must find interest in the Constitution and not only know their rights and responsibilities but also understand them to their milieu and relevance, says Shaandre Finnies, the Deputy Speaker of the Children’s Parliament.
Speaking at the marking of Constitution Day on Monday, February 9, at A. Shipena Secondary School, Finnies says young people must engage in discourse that permits them to research and assess important documents such as the Constitution. “The supreme law of this beautiful Namibia provides us with more than just rights it also outlines my responsibilities as a citizen of Namibia,” he says. He calls on the government and its institutions guarding the Constitution to make sure that the rights of children as stipulated in the Constitution under article 15 are protected. “Allow me to remind you about the incident last year when four- year-old Tenete was murdered in a police holding cell while Article 15 (5) reads: ‘No law authorising preventive detention shall permit children under the age of sixteen (16) years to be detained.’ We were disheartened by the fact that this constitutional right was overstepped, and even if investigations have been done and reports have been released, no institution or person was held accountable for infringing on that young boy’s constitutional right, and as the Children’s Parliament of Namibia, we call on government and the relevant bodies to ensure that something of this nature never happens again. We must ensure that the rights of children are upheld and protected,” urges Finnies.
He is suggesting that youth participation be legitimised and protected within the nation’s policy framework. “We need a backbone. We would like to see in the future that all junior town councils and the Youth Parliament is protected and guarded by an institutional backing that provides for youth participation in decision making,” concludes Finnies.