By Amie Taylor
Barrister Malick HB Jallow, President and Founder of the Institute for the Advancement of Children’s Rights and Madam Sidi Jobarteh, chairperson of the Children’s Court had an orientation for law students on juvenile justice and its challenges.
The orientation was held on 5 July at the Law Faculty premises at Kanifing.
Madam Jobarteh said the rights of children are not respected when they are tried in courts.
“The child’s right to privacy should be respected throughout the proceedings and accordingly, proceedings should be held in camera,” she said, making reference to the Children’s Act of 2005.
According to her, the location of the children’s court is not appropriate for trying minors. “The children’s court itself is not very child friendly because we have the building in the same structure with the other courts,” she lamented. She said that in most cases children are brought into courts in the same vehicle with adult offenders and are exposed to the general public. “And this is against the rights of the child,” she argued.
Another challenge, according to Barrister Jallow is the occurrence of the ‘Child-Adult dilemma’, which he said are cases in which the offender is a child and the case is dragged for too long until the offender is no more a child.
He added that in such cases it is difficult to know what judgment should be passed, whether a sentence or an order.
“There is no national rehabilitation centre in the country,” Mr Jallow said. He called on government to build these centres as it is very important in the juvenile justice system.
GAMWORKS, according to Madam Jobarteh, had presented their plans on putting up rehabilitation centres. An orientation series for stakeholders is in progress, according to Mr Jallow, and this is aimed at conveying the steps of the IACR working with stakeholders towards creating a more effective juvenile system.
“Most of these children are orphans or come from broken homes,” lamented Madam Jobarteh, as she called upon the Gambian society to work towards grooming children rightfully in order to avoid conflict between them and the government.
“Orders are given in the best interest of the children,” said Madam Jobarteh.