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CPA officials speak on child protection

Jul 23, 2013, 9:40 AM | Article By: Abdou Rahman Sallah

Officials of the Child Protection Alliance (CPA) have reiterated the need to protect children from all forms of abuse and exploitation, after a three-day intensive capacity building training for station officers on child rights and protection held at the Baobab Hotel at the weekend.

CPA programme officer Bakary Badjie said police officers as enforcers of law have an important role to play on protection of children and law enforcement, thus the need for the training.

The training, he recalled, was an initiative that emanated from a previous training.

During that training, some of the participants raised concerns that they had not got access to some of the national documents on child rights, such as the Children’s Act, Women’s Act and the Criminal Code, in their stations.

Mr Badjie calls on police officers to protect the rights of children at all times, especially when such cases are taken to their stations.

Referring to the child welfare officer or the commanding officer at the station, he said: “Your stations are a reflection of you as the head, if you are really not supporting on child protection, certainly, your officers would not be able to support very well or implement the activities that we need in the protection of children.”

While assuring them of his office’s commitment and support to improve their stations in child protection, the CPA programme coordinator challenged the police to ensure they have child-friendly environment in their various stations.

As station officers, he said, it is important for them to have knowledge and use it to guide them in giving commands to their junior officers to execute their duties as well as the police prosecutors who will prosecute cases against children or protect children in the work they do.

“In protecting rights, we must also foster the responsibilities of those children and it is the primary responsibility of parents, and as security officers you have to give support to the community, to families as well, so that they would be able to take up their responsibilities towards their children,” he noted.

They will continue to engage the office of the Inspector General of Police to enhance their work, for child protection means moving out, he said.

“You must move from the station and in moving out, you must have mobility and mobility is important in policing as well as in protection of children.”

For his part, Njundu Drammeh, coordinator of CPA, said children are in better hands seeing that senior police officers are committed to the cause of children and are aware of their needs.

He added that the protection aspect of child’s rights would ensure the children, who are the future and present, are better protected.

“If we do not protect their rights today, if we do not protect them from abuse and exploitation today, if we do not create a protective environment for them today, if their rights are not promoted, protected and fulfilled today, when they grow to be elders tomorrow, they will be in a world that is shaky, that is hot, that is abused,” said the CPA coordinator.

Mr Drammeh added that if the rights of children are protected today, when they reach the helm and become leaders, they can safely boast of a better society.

He stressed the need for children to also know their responsibilities and duties towards themselves, teachers, parents and adults in positions of responsibilities and authority, saying rights are not empty claims, they go with certain responsibilities.

With such training, he said, the security personnel will effect “tremendous changes” in the way they handle children’s cases, especially children in conflict or contact with the law, at their various stations.