Deputies at the National Assembly Thursday ratified the Covenant on the Rights of the Child in Islam during an Extra-Ordinary Session convened at the National Assembly Chambers in Banjul.
The motion that was laid before deputies by the Attorney General and minister of Justice, Justice Lamin Jobarteh, seeks to promote the rights of the child and protect them against all forms of abuse.
According to the Justice minister, the motion is very important for the attainment of the objectives enshrined in the Islamic Sharia. "Of course, all of you will agree with me that the rights of the child may be so important that none of us will be willing to overlook. The protocol is indeed very important and we must note that this august body indeed passed bill(s) touching on the children of this country and not only that, this august body also passed bill(s) on the rights of women in this country and most of those bills are in tandem with this Convention," he said.
He informed the lawmakers that some of the articles raised in the protocol seek among other things to realise the objectives of the rights of the child and to take care of the family and strengthen its capability. He added that the issues also raised in the protocol are in tandem with the national laws and that it recognises the national or domestic laws, which are very important. He said before considering the protocol, they need to take into consideration the importance of national laws. "Any convention or otherwise that is in conflict with the national or domestic laws is not a matter that is subject to discussion, more so for us to come here and sit for ratification," he further stated.
Minister Jobarteh also noted that the Convention will help to ensure balance and safety during childhood, as well as seek to provide a platform for children to showcase their talents. "It is the president's desire to ensure the proper protection and upbringing of children who are the natural assets of this country for today and tomorrow. The protection of children is one paramount objective in our national development," he added.
He informed the deputies that the articles in the Covenant do not conflict with the national laws and also respect the responsibility of the parents and guardians for the interest of the child. He finally pointed out that the Covenant in summary seeks to address the general welfare and protection of the children of Islam against all forms of abuse.
Seconding the motion, Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, the Majority leader and NAM for Serrekunda East, commended the Justice minister for the detailed presentation and for laying before them for ratification what he described as an important protocol. "Value, principle and behavioural passion are the cornerstone of the social fabric of Islam. We are aware of Islam's contribution, especially to the civilisation of the world. Children are the vanguard and sustenance of the future of our nation and in fact the Islamic Ummah," he stated.
According to him, The Gambia is a step ahead because "we already have in our 1997 Constitution," fundamental laws that protect children.
Hon. Fatou Mbye, the deputy speaker of the National Assembly, equally welcomed the motion, thanking the minister for a detailed presentation. She opined that women and children are inseparable, thus, describing the motion as 'non-controversial'.
Other members who contributed to the deliberation were Hon. Yahya Dibba of Kiang West, Hon. Muhammed Magassy of Basse, Hon. Demba B.T Sambou of Niani, Hon. Babou Gaye Sonko, nominated member, Hon. Pa Malick Ceesay of Lower Saloum and Hon. Haddy Nyang-Jagne of Jeshwang.
They all welcomed the motion, describing it as timely and relevant to children.