Stakeholders on Thursday in Abuja engaged in conversation on the need to popularise Child’s Rights Act, Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act and Discrimination Against Persons with Disability Prohibition Act, via effective communication strategy.

The conversation took place at a one-day validation workshop on communication strategies for the three policy documents, organised by Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that RoLAC programme is funded by the European Union and implemented by the British Council.

Speaking at the forum, Prof. Muhammed Ali of Mass Communication Department, University of Kaduna State, said that popularising the laws was crucial in promoting access to justice for children, women and people with disabilities.

Ali who is also a consultant to RoLAC, expressed worry that the three laws had not optimally facilitated justice for the group due to low level of awareness in the country.

He said: “It is apposite to note that the spate of impunities against vulnerable persons such as women, children and people with disabilities have reached a disturbing proportion.

“This sometimes lead to multiple vulnerabilities for victims.

“In spite the institutional mechanisms for the prosecution of offenders as contained in the acts, the targets are yet to feel the impact because implementation process is faced with lack of political will, ignorance and lack of awareness.’’

He said that surveys conducted by RoLAC in Adamawa, Enugu, Lagos, Kano and Abuja showed that many organisations working on the protection of the group conduct activities aimed at implementing the laws with limited efforts at creating awareness.

Dr Bashiru Lasisi, also a consultant to RoLAC, said that there was need to conduct an information need assessment of the target groups with a view to effectively communicate with them.

Lasisi added that communication targeted at the group must be sensitive to their socio-cultural and religious environment to ensure it gets to the final end users.

He blamed the low level of awareness of the acts on inappropriate targeting of the populace, limited resources for communication activities and high level of illiteracy.

“Others are the patriarchal nature of the society as well as prevalent harmful cultural and traditional practices,’’ Lasisi added.

Mrs Irene Ogbogu, Executive Director, Disability Rights Advocacy Centre, pointed out the need to conduct information need assessment of different disabilities and come up with communication strategies that suit specific needs.

She also canvassed for regular engagement with the media to ensure that proper terminologies and technologies were deployed to guarantee effective communication.

Representative of the children group, Miss Ejiofor Ifeoma of Bankys Private School, Abuja said that children should be educated on specific punishment for each crime contained in the acts.

Her colleague, Miss Grace Bankole said that increased awareness would enable victims know when they were abused and the appropriate channel to seek justice.

Mr Ifeanyi Eze, Programme Officer, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA, Nigeria) said it was important to build on existing communication structure in each of the target locations instead of building new communication structures.

“However, while doing this, we must equally ensure that we depend on only what works rather than utilising less effective communication strategies that have failed in the past,’’ Eze said.

The Childs Right Act was signed into law in 2003 with its domestication happening at different times in different states between 2004 and the present.

The Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, is to ensure full integration of persons with disabilities into the society.

The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, is aimed at eliminating all forms of violence in public and private life by prohibiting all forms of violence against persons and offer protection and palliative to victims of violence.

Participants were drawn from the civil society organisations, Nigeria Police, Ministry of Women Affairs, the media and National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP)

Edited by Obike Ukoh