The Institute for the Advancement of Children’s Rights(IACR) joins the rest of Africa in marking June 16 set aside as Day of the African child. The day is a unique milestone to take stock of progress and challenges registered in the protection and promotion of the rights of children.
The theme for this year is particularly relevant, from an IACR perspective, as it focuses on “Access to child-Friendly Justice in Africa”. This year also marks the 30thAnniversary of the African Charter for the Rights and Welfare of the Child which the Gambia ratified in the year 2006. The charter is the main legal instrument enjoining the promotion and protectionof the rights of the child in Africa. Indeed the promise of the charter is comprehensively reflected in the legal framework for children’s rights in the Gambia with the Children’s Act of 2005 as its centerpiece.
Since its inception in 2013 the IACR foundation has consistently provided probono legal services to children in conflict with the law, provide capacity building and awareness raising for stakeholders in the juvenile justice system as well as engage in research and publication on topical issues pertaining to juvenile justice.
Also, in the immediate aftermath of the change of government in the Gambia in 2017, the IACR foundation presented recommendations to the Office of the Chief Justice and the Ministries of Justice and Interior on addressing challenges faced by the juvenile justice system in the Gambia. We are pleased to note that a substantial part of the recommendations have been implemented and we look forward to full implementation.
We however note, with disappointment, that the track record of enforcement of the laws against paedophilia and child sex tourism, which undoubtedly exist in the Gambia, does not reflect the gravity and far-reaching impact of this menace to our society.
We therefore call on the Ministries of Interior and Justice to strengthen policy and operational mechanisms to ensure that perpetrators of such grave offences against children are vigorously investigated and prosecuted.
Signed: Barrister Malick H.B Jallow
Founder and President,IACR