By Tabora Bojang
The Government of The Gambia is highly committed to the protection of her children from all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation, according to the basic and secondary education Minister Claudiana A Cole.
Madam Cole was speaking last week at a two-day national workshop for legal reform on physical and humiliating punishment of children in The Gambia organised by the Child Protection Alliance and Safe Children International held at the Baobab Holiday Resort in Kololi.
“Children are placed very high on our political and development agenda and we promise to keep them there for a very long time to come. There are many laws that protect children from all forms of violence, such as the Children’s Act 2005, the Women’s Act 2010 and the Domestic Violence Act 2013,” she stated.
Adding: “Building a protective environment for children is a commitment we have set for ourselves and it is one from which we never would shrink or falter”.
She said the workshop is very timely as it would provide an opportunity to review such laws and policies, identify the gaps in relation to regional and international commitments and to come up with concrete policy recommendations that will ensure that children are constantly and consistently protected from all forms of physical and emotional violence in the home, school, community, work setting, institution and other settings.
According to Minister Cole, children are our nexus with the future and the kind of environment in which they grow to adulthood would be the principal determinant of the outlook of that future.
“My Ministry is categorically opposed to subjecting children to physical and humiliating punishment and has zero tolerance for such practice in our schools. We have developed handbooks and other materials to equip our teachers with skills and knowledge on positive discipline and behavior management,” she noted.
Njundu Drammeh, Child Protection Alliance, said the forum will avail stakeholders the opportunity to strategically look at the adequacies and the inadequacies of existing laws on physical and humiliating punishment of children in The Gambia and how such laws can be amended to meet international obligations.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child recognize the right of the child to respect for his or her human dignity, physical integrity and equal protection under the law. Corporal and humiliating punishment of violate these human rights of the child.
According to the organisers, the overall aim of the roundtable meeting is to increase the capacity of the Child Protection Alliance and partners in working towards the prohibition and elimination of all corporal punishment of children in The Gambia.
A total of 30 participants, drawn from civil society, Government, and other partners participated this national workshop.