The Child Justice Act, 2008 (Act No 75 of 2008) Information Booklet

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The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, which is the highest law in the country, says that the child’s best interests must be considered in every decision made about the child. The government of South Africa continues to work hard to protect children’s rights.The Child Justice Act, 2008 (Act 75 of 2008), herein after referred to as the CJA, is another effort by government that is aimed at protecting children’s constitutional rights when children are in conflict with the law. The CJA was signed into law on 14 May 2008 and started to work on 1 April 2010. WHAT IS THE CJA? Prior to 1 April 2010, children who committed crime were dealt with, in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act 51 of 1977) which also deals with adults who commit crime. The aim of the CJA is to set up a child justice system for children in conflict with the law. This means that children under the age of 18, who are suspected to have committed crime, will not be dealt with in terms of the normal criminal procedure which is used for adults, but the child justice process will be followed. The CJA seeks to ensure that child justice matters are managed in a rights-based manner and to assist children suspected of committing crime to turn their lives around and become productive members of society by engaging with the child in restorative justice measures, diversions and other alternative sentencing options.

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