CHILD rights lawyers have called for stiffer penalties against individuals and outlets caught selling beer to underage children after a video of drunk minors on Christmas went viral.
The minors were captured drinking beer in Harare’s central business district during the festive season.
Police on Friday arrested a Harare man for selling alcohol to the underage children.
According to police, the suspect was operating an illegal liquor outlet located at Block 2C10, Nyerere Flats in Mbare from where the kids sourced their alcohol.
Child rights lawyer Caleb Mtandwa said child protection laws must be invoked to punish individuals who sell alcohol to the under-aged.
“The naming and shaming approach that the ZRP has adopted is also commendable,” Mtandwa said.
“Once arrested, the courts should impose deterrent sentences that should be published.
“Alcohol is, however, also sold to minors by outlets that are not registered and the public has a critical role to supply information to the authorities so that they can be dealt with.”
Mtandwa said the case raised important issues where the state needs to step in, in cases where there is evidence of poor parenting.
“This is a role that is supported by other laws such as the Children’s Act,” she said.
“Some of those children have parents who should be made to account for how they are raising them.
“Where parents fail or are not there to provide guidance, other stakeholders such as the community and the government should come in.”
Another child rights lawyer Opal Sibanda said the circulation of the video was also a violation of children’s rights.
“Children have a right to privacy and not to be subjected to attacks on their honour and reputation as provided for in Article 10 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child,” Sibanda said.
“The constitution of Zimbabwe also provides for the protection of the right to privacy in section 57.”
“Given the fact that information online can never be totally erased, these children might be affected in the future when the video resurfaces”
Zimbabwe child president Neville Mavu said the case opened debate on alcohol abuse in Zimbabwe including by minors.
“It also points to possible breach of child protection as well as drug and alcohol policies and legislation that must be addressed by relevant authorities with urgency,” Mavu added.
“In so doing it is important to remember that some children are also being subjected to exploitation and abuse by being forced and/or groomed to commit illegal acts including drinking alcohol and taking drugs.
“This underscores the urgent need for comprehensive measures to protect and support vulnerable children who are at risk of harm or neglect.”