The ECOWAS Commission through its Centre for Gender Development (CCDG) and the Regional Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (HCHR) for West Africa organized Thursday, May 26, 2022 in Banjul, G ambie, a High level Reunion Ministers for Gender and Child Protection and Ministers for Human Rights. The meeting was attended by the Ministers of the member states of ECOWA, beneficiaries of the Support for the Protection of Children Victims of Violations of Their Rights (PAPEV).
This ministerial meeting was officially launched by S.E.M Badara A. JOOF, Vice President representing H.E.M Adama BARROW, President of the Republic of The Gambia in the presence of Commissioner Siga Fatima JAGNE in charge of Social and Gender Affairs Commission of the ECOWAO Commission, Ministers in charge of Gender from Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Niger and Senegal; Secretary of State for Human Rights of Senegal, Resident Representative of the Regional Office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (HCHR) for West Africa, ECOWA Resident Representative in Gambia and representatives of partner institutions (HCHR, UNICEF, Italian Cooperation, United Nations , International Plan etc ).
The work included “Evaluation of experiences of transnational collaboration in combating child trafficking, the example of the PAPEV and the implementation of strategies to support legislative processes for the protection of children s children victims of abuse and violations of their rights in West Africa”, and were preceded by a meeting of Directors and Experts in charge of child protection and human rights from 23-25 May. At the end of this meeting, the Ministers of the Member States beneficiary of the PAPEV adopted the Banjul Declaration with the aim of creating a safe and fair environment for children victims of violations of their rights as well as eur legal, judicial and social responsibility in space ECD.
The opening ceremony of this High Level meeting was marked by several speeches. In her welcome speech, Minister Fatou SANYANG-KINTEH in charge of Gender, Children and Social Welfare of the Republic of The Gambia, after thanking the CE-DEAO and partners engaged in this project, recalled that this meeting following a request from the Ministers of Gender and Children of Gambia and Guinea Bissau who expressed the need for strengthening partnership in combating child trafficking in member states. According to her, it is an opportunity to evaluate achievements in the field of child protection, map the future through new initiatives and reiterate common commitments for the protection of children in the subregion.
Following this, the speeches of Mrs. Eugenia PISANI, Head of the Gender and Human Rights Program at the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and Mr. Andrea ORI, Resident Representative of the Regional Office for West Africa of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (HCHR) recalled the latest United Nations statistics on human trafficking that specify that more than 75% of the victims in West Africa are children. Reason why international institutions and partners support this meeting to discuss and adopt priority actions to be led by the beneficiary states of POPEV to strengthen the legislative framework, polite tick and institutional fight against child trafficking in West Africa.
Intervening on behalf of S. E Jean Claude Kassi BROU, Chairman of the ECOWA Commission, Commissioner Siga Fatima JAGNE in charge of Social Affairs and Gender said that violence and abuse against children slow down economic growth and impact t negatively on the process of regional integration of the ECOWA, driven by human capital. It concluded by reaffirming the ongoing commitment of ECOWA leaders to work closely with member states and partners, not only to eradicate violations and abuse of children’s rights, but also , to solve all the problems that lead to inequality, discrimination and The marginalization in the region.
The official keynote address of this High Level Ministerial Meeting was delivered by H.E.M. Badara A. JOOF, Vice President, on behalf of H.E.M Adama BARROW, President of the Republic of The Gambia, who began his speech with this quote from Frederick Douglass: “It is better to build strong children than to repair broken men.” He then recalled that his country attaches special importance to institutional and legal measures against child abuse, violence and exploitation. For Vice President JOOF, the issue of children’s reintegration must be based on a solid strategy that can ensure the child is supported in his family. He concluded his speech by calling for continued collaboration between PAPEV beneficiary countries and partners for the welfare of children in the subregion.
Funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), the PAPEV is implemented by the HCHR and ECOWA across six countries namely Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger and Senegal. It aims to support beneficiary states to strengthen their national legal frameworks for the promotion of children’s rights, access to services for children victims of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, and strengthen collusion Laboratory and cooperation at the regional level for the protection of children.