A law can lay out in much more detail how the provisions of the UN Convention and the African Charter are expected to be applied in practice in a particular country. National laws can also provide a means through which children and their families can hold governments, and other duty bearers, to account on the commitments they have made on children’s rights. For example, the UN Convention states that every child has a right to free primary education. However, only if a government introduces this provision into national legislation is it possible for individuals to challenge the government, and seek justice in court if necessary, if no free school place is available.

Laws are introduced through Acts of Parliament. The four countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have each introduced Acts of Parliament that establish a broad range of children’s rights. The Acts also set out who is responsible for protecting children’s rights, and introduce the bodies with responsibility for overseeing that protection; for example, National Councils for Children’s Services, or juvenile courts.

2.3 Understanding the laws and policies that protect children’s rights in East Africa