By Jariatu S. Bangura
Members of Parliament have, after heated debate sent the Child Right Act, 2023 back to the Legislative Committee for thorough consultations and scrutiny to be done among stakeholders.
The Bill seeks to repeal and replace the Child Right Act 2007, the Children and Young Persons Act Cap 44, the Corporal Punishment Act 1953, Section 2 (2&3) and Section 5 of the Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorce Act 2009 and Section 210 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1965 (Act No. 32 of 1965).
According to the Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Manty Tarawally, the government was committed to addressing and protecting the needs of children as depicted in Cluster 5 of the Mid-Term National Development Plan 2020-2023.
She said the purpose of the review was to ensure that the landscape to protect the rights of children is strengthened.
She said in order to ensure that parents are carried along together with the ministry, they have developed a parenting statute that is currently been carried out in all the districts.
Hon. Neneh Lebbie commended the effort made by the ministry in putting together such a Bill to address the rights of children. She said the Bill is not controversial but needs to undergo thorough scrutiny, taking into consideration the cultural aspect.
She said children are vulnerable and that the essence of the Bill should be looked into and called on the ministry to allow Parliament to look into the Bill keenly for the good of the children, parents and teachers.
Speaker of Parliament, Hon.Abass C. Bundu, urged MPs to pay keen attention to Clause 24, which deals with protection from torture, degrading treatment, hazardous labour and early child marriage, corporal punishment, female genital mutilation, cultism, child initiation and physical torture and cruelty.
“This clause touches the heart of our culture as Africans and I wouldn’t want to preside over a parliament that borrows the concept of other cultures without appreciating the significance as to what they are about,” he said.