Children, especially those whose parents are absent or whose parents are incapable of raising them, are a more vulnerable group within a larger group of children who are already classified as a vulnerable group. Children by their nature lack the legal and intellectual capacity to enter binding contracts or to make decisions which may have a profound impact on their lives. Legal guardianship is the power granted to a person by the courts to administer the estate of a child on behalf of the child, to grant consent to certain procedures which include medical treatment and to assist the child in the performance of certain acts which are recognised by law. The terms legal guardians and caregivers have been used interchangeably over the years in different countries in Africa to refer to people who care for children in the absence of their parents. In the absence of the biological parents, other adults who assume the role of caring for and ensuring the child’s development and welfare are the child’s caregiver. The court may award custody of the child to the legal guardian and the legal guardian performs the role of a caregiver. When a guardian is granted custody of the child, the guardian may also be granted other powers, rights and obligations over the child. This chapter lays out the background issues which underpin the basis for the protection of children, especially regarding the guardianship of children in Africa.
KeywordsCôte d’Ivoire South Africa Uganda Guardianship Children Caregiver Deprived
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