Monrovia – When Liberia joined the African continent in commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Day of the African Child, a strong call for access to the “child-friendly justice” system in Africa was highlighted.
There were also concerns about the abuse of children during the lockdown period caused by the novel Coronavirus.
This year’s event should have been celebrated in a grand style with a large number of children in attendance but the pandemic has created a new normal – having meetings and events online.
Just 12 persons were in the entire room with several other participants online phoning via Zoom online meeting.
Speaking at the start of the program, Ambassador ‘Tunde O. Ajisomo, the ECOWAS Special Representative to Liberia, commended the government’s efforts in capturing the rights of a child in the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).
Despite the government’s efforts, Ambassador Ajisomo stressed that a lot has to be done as the problems affecting Liberian children are still enormous and require urgent attention.
According to the ECOWAS Ambassador, the rights of the African child have been neglected by parents or guardians whom, he said, have abandoned their responsibility to their children.
He also mentioned that the country’s justice system has not paid adequate attention and commitment to promoting “child-friendly justice system.
“Permit me to add that to promote access to child-friendly justice, this must be seen in the context of promoting and protecting the rights of the child under applicable extant National, Regional and International Laws,” Ambassador Ajisomo said.
The ECOWAS Ambassador also praised Liberia for ratifying the African Charter on the rights and welfare of the child in 1992 and the Convention on the rights of the child on the 4th of June, 1993, and domesticated both under the Children Law of Liberia 2012.
“What we need now is timely enforcement of all these rights that would enhance the welfare and the total wellbeing of the children of Liberia and, by extension, the ECOWAS region and Africa,” he added.
“For our children that have been abused during the COVID-19 lockdown period, including those that are currently being abused, our hearts and prayers go out to you and your families as we hope that this commemoration would serve as the beginning of a turning point that would change your lives,” he said.
Also speaking, UNICEF Representative to Liberia Laila O. Gad said as the pandemic takes center stage in the world, the older populations are at risk in America and Europe while the youthful population in Liberia and many parts of Africa are facing the impact of the virus.
“As the evidence in Liberia is indicating, it is the children that are the most deeply affected by the indirect impact of COVID-19 which is far greater now than the actual deaths from the virus itself,” UNICEF Representative said.
According to her, although Liberia is trying to catch up with the losses of the Ebola virus outbreak, the impact of the COVID-19 will reverse the gains made.
She added: “UNICEF in Liberia is looking forward to utilizing the momentum created by the day of the African Child to invite partners and stakeholders to work together on prioritizing the child rights agenda in Liberia.”
Adding up, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gbehzohngar Milton Findley, said the government is doing all in its power to seek the wellbeing of the children in the country.
“Africa must take its responsibility by providing for our children not only the justice system but we must invest in our children,” Minister Finley said, adding that the young population is a precious jewel of the African Continent.
Speaking via the internet, Minister of Gender Child and Social Protection, Williametta Piso Saydee-Tarr said the government will continue to make gains in the restoration of basic social services and improvements in the lives of children
“As Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, my team and I have been working tirelessly with support from our many development partners to tackle the many issues affecting children,” Minister Tarr said.