Child Protection Alliance (CPA) with funding from Save the Children
International organised a workshop for members of the Regional Technical
Advisory Committees and the Multi-disciplinary Facilitation Teams of the
Central River and Upper River Regions on 18 and 19 July 2017.
The workshop was meant to popularise and disseminate the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Concluding Observations and the UPR Recommendations.
The Gambia ratified the CRC on 8 August 1990. One of its obligations is to be submitting reports on the implementation of the Convention periodically to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
On 28 October 2011, the Committee on the Rights of the Child received The Gambia’s combined Second and Third Periodic Report on the CRC which it examined on 15 January 2015 and adopted the Concluding Observations on 30 January 2015.
Prior to the adoption of the Concluding Observations, there was a plenary session between the Committee and the State delegation, led by the Director of Social Welfare, in which the progresses, achievements and challenges of child rights promotion, protection and fulfillments by The Gambia were extensively discussed.
The Concluding Observations are a set of observations and recommendations on the status of the CRC’s implementation by the State Party, the progress achieved and the main areas which would require improvement.
They are not criticisms of a State Party’s efforts in protecting and fulfilling the rights of children within its jurisdiction.
Facilitating the discussions on the Concluding Observations for the Gambia, Lamin K. Saidy of CPA highlighted the recommendations which include the establishment of the Ministry for Children’s Affairs; adequate budgetary allocations to health and social welfare; intensifying the fight against child sex tourism and discrimination against children born out of wedlock.
It also recommended physically challenged children, girls and women; promotion of child participation; intensifying birth registration of all children; monitoring information accessible to children in internet cafes and video clubs; legal prohibition of corporal punishment and awareness campaign on positive discipline.
Recommendations are also made on other broad issues such as education, breastfeeding; violence against children; adolescent health; health and health services; children in street situation; and sale, trafficking and abduction.
Mr Saidy acknowledged that some recommendations have already been fulfilled by the State such as the legal prohibition of FGM and child marriage; the finalisation and implementation of the National Child Protection Strategy and the Social Protection Policy; and the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
While the implementation of the Concluding Observations is the responsibility of the State, civil society has an important role to play in monitoring the implementation of these recommendations.
The Concluding Observations is a useful tool for child rights advocacy as well as one for measurement of government accountability.
The Gambia is expected to submit its combined fourth to seventh periodic reports by 6 March 2021 which should also include information on the follow-up to the present concluding observations.
Speaking at the forum in Jarra Soma, Lower River Region, the Regional Officer for SOS Children’s Villages, Ebrima Kinteh, commended CPA for organising such an event.
He said that everybody particularly the Government has an obligation to fulfill children’s rights at all levels.
He urged his colleague members on the Technical Advisory Committee to factor children issues in their budgets and programs.
Jawara Biai of the Governor’s Office, Central River Region reaffirmed Government’s commitment to child protection, citing the numerous laws and policies in place.
He challenged all TAC/MDFTs members to disseminate the information.