Liberia Craves Safe Space For Children To Speak Out Against Harmful Practices Affecting Them

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By: Christophina P. Nyanneh

In observance of the 2022 International Day of the African Child, some stakeholders in the protection of children are calling for the elimination of all forms of harmful practices affecting children in Liberia, and the need for safe space to be created to allow them report harmful practices affecting their wellbeing.

On Tuesday, President George  Weah by Proclamation declared Thursday, June 16, 2022, as “Day of the African Child” to be observed throughout the Republic as a Working Holiday.

The observance of the Day of the African Child is to memorize hundreds of black school children who participated in the Soweto uprising in 1976, which witnessed the brutal massacre in Soweto, South Africa, of protesting black school students against Apartheid while advocating for equal rights and opportunities.

Liberia joined the African Union (AU) and other international partners to observe the Day with children across the African Continent under the Global Theme: “Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy & Practice since 2013,” and National Theme: “Creating a Space for Children to Speak-Up Against Harmful Practices Affecting Their Well-Being”.

In observance of the Day, the Young Men Christian Association of Liberia (YMCA) conducted a day similar for children in Ganta, Nimba County, highlighting trafficking in Person (TIP) and Drugs Abuse (DA) as two key issues undermining the wellbeing of children in Liberia.

Speaking during the similar, madam Beatrice Sehkpor of the Liberia National Police/ Women and Children Protection Section, frowned on people involved perpetuating violence against children, and calls for collective efforts in eliminating or minimizing such act. Madam said, “Rape, child trafficking, and domestic violence are the cases we receive almost on a daily basis here. We are calling on the government to help us with logistics to help enhance our work to ensure that victims receive proper care and perpetrators are

brought to justice”

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Madam Beatrice Sehkpor, LNP / WCPS, Nimba

She wants policymakers and state actors to ensure the protection of children against all forms of violence by empowering law enforcement institutions especially the police to maintain sustained monitoring.

Madison Gaylah, Deputy Chief of Operations of the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA), in Ganta Nimba County, said the use of illicit drugs by the country’s youth is scaring and requires urgent interventions of government. He said the LDEA needs mobility to ensure efficient and smooth work.

Mr. Madison Gaylah, Deputy Chief of Operations, LDEA), Ganta Nimba County

“Drugs abuse is everybody’s business, not only the LDEA alone. When you see someone involve with drugs, report it to the police or the LDEA officers. As today marks the Day of the African Child, let us all remember those children who lost their lives fighting for their rights, Mr. Gaylah said”.

Madam Jamesetta Muna Cooper, the Coordinator for YMCA in Nimba County said the institution is directly working with young people in the county irrespective of tribal background, religion, sex, among others to provide safe space for them to speak out on issues affecting their survival.

She named child trafficking, child labor, commercial sex works, rape, among others are forms of violation children continue to endure throughout in Liberia.

Madam Jamesetta Muna Cooper, Coordinator YMCA in Nimba County

She said, “We are calling for immediate interventions of authorities to put stop to these crimes against our children. Until this is eliminated, the future of our children remains undermined or threatened”.

“In adherence to the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the Government Liberia ratified the Convention through an Act of Legislature in 1992, which guarantees the full protection of children from all forms of deprivation and abuse.

An assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now African Union (AU), in keeping with resolution CM/RES.1290 XL commemorates annually on June 16 of each year as “Day of the African Child” to focus awareness of the problems and design remedies to adequately address the effects on the young African population.

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