May 4, 2020, 2:32 PM
15th June 2020
My name is Sarata Ceesay, The Speaker of the Children National Assembly of the Gambia, a platform of 105 children from across the country, representing the voice and rights of all children in the Gambia.
Today 16th June, is annually commemorated as the Day of African Child. The day was set aside by OAU and now AU and its Member States, to remember and reflect on the 16th June 1976 student uprising in Soweto, - South Africa, where students marched in protest against the poor quality of education they received, and demanded to be taught in their own languages, but were brutally murdered by the security forces.
It is in this spirit that, The Children National Assembly of the Gambia under the Gambia National Youth Council joins children across the Gambia and Africa, to commemorate the Day of the African Child 2020 to show solidarity, reflect on the sacrifices school children in Soweto had taken to protect their right to education, and end apartheid discriminatory education system. We will be commemorating the day using virtual platforms and radio programmes to discuss the challenges affecting children in the Gambia.
The theme for this year’s commemoration is ‘Access to a Child-Friendly Justice System in Africa’. You will agree with me that, timely and speedy justice delivery is at the heart of peace, security and development. Child friendly justice system requires respecting the rights of every child everywhere regardless of their color, race, language, religion or status. It is a precursor for sustainable peace, sustainable security and adherence to the rule of law and sustainable development.
While we commemorate, we wish to acknowledge the progress made by Government and partners including UNICEF, NGOs and CSOs towards the protection of children in the Gambia including the establishment of Ministry responsible of Children, establishment of Children’s Court to ensure access to justice, the formulation of Children’s Act 2005, the establishment of the juvenile wing of the Prison as a correction centre for children in conflict with the law, the construction of school to ensure access to education, and the establishment of Children National Assembly of the Gambia among others.
Despite this progress, there is still more room for improvement, we must not forget the several risks and rights violations children are exposed to on daily basis in our homes, streets, and in our communities. From poor children selling in the streets, vulnerable children in madarassas, out of school children without opportunities, children in prison or correction facilities, children without food, children being rape and molested, children victims of gender base violence, children who are denied their childhood due to child marriage, children from broken homes and living with single parents, orphan and street beggars among host of children that need our urgent attentions especially during this Covid-19 pandemic.
In conclusion, as the TRRC enter its final year of hearing, it is important to remind ourselves the need to pay special attention to children who were direct or indirect victims of human right violations. They need special attention and reparation. We also call for prison reforms and reform of justice delivery system by expanding and supporting the Children’s Court to address the needs of children especially those in the rural communities.
I would like to recognized the commitment of all members of children national Assembly of the Gambia, thank all partners for the support to CNAG since its establishment and sincerely appreciate the efforts of The Gambia National Youth Council for the guidance and support.
Finally, I wish to remind all children to stay home and practice the preventive measures World Health Organization and The Ministry of Health to end Covid-19 in the Gambia.
Happy day of the African child