Monday, July 22, 2024

National Human Rights Commission Calls for Effective Implementation of Laws Governing Children

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By: Alieu Jallow

Emmanuel Joof, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has called for the effective implementation of laws governing children.

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He acknowledged the country’s adequate laws and a satisfactory legal framework protecting the rights of children but emphasized the need for the effective implementation of laws governing children.

“While we commend the government for its efforts to protect children and combat child trafficking and other forms of exploitation, effective implementation of our laws is crucial. We need to put in a lot of work to achieve the necessary protection of the fundamental rights of our children,” said Chair Joof.

While commending the government for its efforts in the promotion and protection of children’s rights in The Gambia, Chair Joof outlined that children continue to face numerous challenges, including rights violations, especially the girl child, such as FGM, child marriage, violence, exploitation, and other types of abuses.

“Sexual abuse and exploitation of children remain challenges in the country, where it is still a taboo to talk about these issues. Our law enforcement officers are not adequately trained, sensitized, or oriented to handle sexual and gender-based violence against children,” he stressed.

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Chair Joof highlighted that limited access to healthcare services, child labor, and inadequate nutrition still impact the health and well-being of Gambian children. He vehemently described FGM/C as a threat to the girl child, especially given the recent incitement of some religious leaders to challenge the laws on FGM/C and the advocacy of National Assembly members to repeal the laws prohibiting and criminalizing the practice.

“So many children in The Gambia are still subjected to child labor, including domestic services and commercial sexual exploitation. Many children are seen roaming the streets, especially in major towns like Kerewan, Farafenni, Soma, and Basse, begging in the streets during school days and school hours, which is against our laws,” Mr. Joof added.

He urged the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Welfare to engage in more research into the plight of children in The Gambia. Joof noted that the last research done on children was in 1992 and urged the ministry to conduct another to capture recent happenings in the larger towns. He emphasized the need for more studies on children in conflict with the law and the use of drugs and substances, which is becoming a growing issue in the country.

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