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Training on child protection, rights underway

Jul 14, 2010, 12:24 PM | Article By: Njie Baldeh

A three-day training workshop on child rights and child protection, organised by the Gambia Armed Forces, in collaboration with Child Fund The Gambia yesterday kicked-off at the Fajara Military Training School.

In her opening statement, Major Binta Badjie of the Gambia Armed Forces lauded the Gambia Armed Forces and Child Fund The Gambia for organising such an important training on child rights and child protection. She noted that the reason for targeting the instructors this time around is based on the final plans for handing over the project coordinated by the then Christian Children Fund, now Child Fund to the Gambia Armed Forces.

According to her, many a time people used to say why should children have rights. She noted that "it is clear because these rights are the rights to life: have good medical care, good shelter, good food and, of course clean water, among others."

"When a child is matured to the age of 18, he or she has the right to participate in decision-making processes and should not be forced to marry or involve in any harmful traditional practices, such as rape or female genital mutilations," she said.

Noting that child trafficking, child pornography and sexual exploitation of young women are very serious crimes, she said the Gambia Armed Forces in general does not condone these acts and any officer or soldier caught in such acts will face the full force of the law.

She added that previous training programmes were basically focused on the instructors, simply because they conduct all types of military trainings. She said coordinators believed that if this subject is to be inculcated in the military training curriculum, the instructors would be in a better position to teach the subject.

"This final evaluation workshop will ensure that the Armed Forces' high command will incorporate the subject Child Rights and Child Protection into the doctrine of the force so that all members of the institution will be knowledgeable on the topic rights during recruit training," she noted. Major Badjie further stated that observing the rights of children and their protection is a global concern and the Gambia Armed Forces is no exemption.

For his part, Brigadier General Ebrima Bah who spoke on behalf of the Chief of Defence Staff, Gambia Armed Forces, Lt General Masanneh N Kinteh said the purpose of the workshop is for the final drafting of the localisation of the child protection military training manual. He added that the programme is in preparation for the handing over of the military child protection project, funded by the Save the Children, Sweden.

According to Brigadier General Bah, the manual once finalised will be submitted to his office for scrutiny and onwards submission to the Ministry of Defence. "If approved, this localised manual will be incorporated into the training programme of the Gambia Armed Forces Training School," Bah said, while imploring all the participants to put in their best efforts towards its successful outcome.

Eustace Cassell, the Director of Child Fund The Gambia commended The Gambia Armed Forces for having such an important training workshop on child rights and child protection. He said since the project started in 2009, a series of training programmes have been conducted on child rights and child protection. He described children as very important in society, as he put it, they are the future leaders of any nation.

"We have trained more than 1000 soldiers in The Gambia on child rights," he concluded.