This year’s theme was ‘Access to Child Friendly Justice in Africa.’ However, The Gambia has localised this theme, calling it ‘Access to Child Friendly Justice in The Gambia.’
The theme for this year, according to Fatty, is apt as the country continues to see an increase in child abuse in the country.
Recent child abuses including rape is at an alarming rate and this warranted the reaction of CPA National Coordinator Fatty who said The Gambia cannot be described as a safe country for children.
“There is no denial that we always receive cases of abuse in this country and it is on the increment on daily basis.
“But because the laws are not enforced, you see children selling in the streets, you see them begging in the streets. The amount of rape cases we now receive on daily basis is quite on the alarm and quite on the increment.”
He said the Gambia has well intended laws that should adequately protect children but because they are not enforced they have not turned into reality.
The child protector Mr. Fatty hails the government for ratifying and domesticating laws that are meant to protect children in the country but said a lot more needs to be done.
The Gambia has committed to having children courts in all the regions in the country, but as of now Mr. Fatty said, “we only have four children’s court in The Gambia. The recent one is that of Mansakonko but North Bank there is no children court and CRR there is no children’s court.”
He cited the commitment of ECOWAS member states to allocate 3% of their national budget to children but The Gambia has fallen short of this commitment in the 2020 budget.
He further questioned the government’s commitment to the promotion and welfare of children, saying that even at the time of covid-19 pandemic, there is no clear cut package from the national cake for children.
He urged all stakeholders to get back to the drawing board and develop a national roadmap that will promote children’s affairs.
Mr. Fatty is advocating for better mechanisms that will help children who have conflict with the law to be better citizens of the country without resorting to the courts or imprisonment.
He called on the authorities to commit to the 3% budget allocation and to ensure that it is reflected in the development of children.