Bashiru Thullah Esq., attached at the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Aberdeen Road in Freetown, on Wednesday 12th April, 2023 spoke to this medium about the current status of the reviewed Child Rights Bill which had been sent to Parliament for and had reached the Legislative Committee.
According to him, “Parliament may sit on it today, Thursday 13th April, 2023 to discuss and finalize some contentious areas which need justification.”
He explained that one sticky area is “diversion”. He said this involves cases where children commit acts which can be described in law as a crime but on the other hand, are deemed to be mistakes. “The question about diversification therefore arises: who to divert and where to divert.”
He noted that it is sometimes very difficult to decide what to do with a child who breaks a vehicle glass for example, or does something else similar to this. He added that it also becomes a question to determine where to place that a child who commits such “crimes” – whether to place that child in a home or in the prison.
According to him, other contentious issues that need clarification or justification include but are not limited to: corporal punishment in schools and in homes, harmful practices such as FGM, Poro Society among others.
He informed this press that for them to decide on justifications and clarifications on the above issues to be in readiness for Parliament when they invite the Ministry and other stakeholders to make a final conclusion, they had held a meeting at the Atlantic Hotel, Lumley Beach in March this year to brainstorm the issues.
On her part, Chairlady of the Parliamentary Committee on Gender and Children’s Affairs, Hon. Katherine Z. Tarawally, said the reviewed Child Rights Bill was presented to Parliament on February 24, 2023According to her, the House places premium on the protection of the rights of children across the country.
“We are very much particular about the rights of children and we take the reviewed Child Rights Bill very seriously,” she said.
The fate of this most important Bill now rests on Parliament. “If it is not passed into law before Parliament goes into recess, then we will have to wait for the next Parliament which would start the process anew,” Bashiru Thullah Esq. said.