Bureau Régional pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest

The Banjul Declaration and Call for Action to support Children Victims of Rights Violations Republic of The Gambia 26 May 2022.

Preamble

The Banjul Declaration and Call for Action to support Children Victims of Rights Violations Republic of The Gambia
26 May 2022.

INTRODUCTION :

We, the Ministers in charge of child protection in the Project to Support the Protection of Children Victims of Violation of their Rights (PAPEV) beneficiary countries (Gambia , Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger and Senegal) supported by ECOWAS, Italian Agency of Development Cooperation and OHCHR-WARO ;

Concerned about the increasing rate of child rights violations and sustained sexual exploitation including Children on the move, and young migrants, children with disabilities and children exploited in Quranic Learning Centers ;

Considering the outcomes of the Experts Meeting held in Banjul, in The Republic of The Gambia, from 23 to 25 May 2022 and brought together representatives from Governments, None State Actors including Inter-governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations, Human Rights Institutions, Law Enforcement Agencies and the Legal Community, Religious Leaders, Parliamentarians, Researchers and Academics, Civil Society Organizations, Children.

Sharing developmental experiences, lessons learned, best practices and key challenges in justice administration for the children, especially those on the move ;

1. Renew our commitment to the implementation of goals and targets, thus the Call for Action to prevent, prohibit and stop rights violation against children on the move, and provide the necessary support to children who have fallen victim of such violation as mentioned below.
2. Reiterate that the multiple abuses of children on the move are gross infringements of their fundamental Human Rights ; thus the need for Member States to prevent, prosecute, punish and promote partnership in their efforts to respect their human dignity, physical and mental integrity.
3. Express concern at the continuing high level of sexual exploitation of children and young migrant in States in all regions, and at the increase in certain forms of sexual exploitation of children and young migrants, in particular through abuse of the Internet and new developing technologies, and as a result of the increased mobility in irregular migration.
4. Note with deep concern the increased vulnerability of many children on the move as a result of increasing poverty, social and gender inequality, discrimination, drug and alcohol abuse, ongoing demand for sex with children, environmental degradation, displacement, occupation, armed conflict, food insecurity and other emergencies that create strains on the basic unit of the family responsible for the protection of children, in all regions and Member States underpinned by an environment of social tolerance, complicity and impunity.
5. Recall the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other national blue prints of individual member countries which calls on States Parties (various state Governments) to take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected from all forms of sexual exploitation, as well as the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, which require States Parties to prohibit, criminalize and prosecute these practices in our respective Member States.
6. Recognize the active and meaningful participation of West African Member States such as Niger, Senegal, The Gambia, and Guinea Bissau in this declaration

Coordination Mechanism

 The establishment/enhancement of multi-sectoral initiatives to prevent and combat trafficking of children on the move including for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

 To strengthen bilateral and multilateral agreements between and among Member States with a view to establishing effective cooperation in efforts to prevent and combat cross-border trafficking and sexual exploitation of children on the move and young migrant as well as for the detection, investigation, prosecution and punishment of those responsible.

 Mainstream the WAN mechanism on reintegration

 Conduct annual meetings on Child protection by ECOWAS

 Strengthen coordination mechanism in ECOWAS Member States in the fight against children on the move

 Increase support to organization in their service dispensation towards the children on the move.
 Reinforce the mechanism of children on the move – victims of rights violation within ECOWAS Member State

 Conduct parenting programs to advocate for children on the victims of human rights violation.

 Ensure availability of Special budget for children on the move at state level.

 Strengthen and appropriately fund social protection initiative to improve lives and livelihoods of vulnerable families.

 Ensure there is strong bilateral relationship between diplomatic missions in Member States to address the trafficking of children at all levels.

 Commit on providing quality reintegration package for children on the move – children victims of human rights violation.

 Establish independent Directorate of Children in all Member States.

 Ensure there is Emergency fund for Children at ECOWAS Commission and within member countries for the protection of children on the move- children of human rights violation.

 Establish a common mechanisms and systems for Minors to travel in Member States and within the ECOWAS region.

 Development of systems for the regulation of care institutions and unified curriculum for the quranic institution

SERVICE PROVISION

 Capacity building of social workforce to respond to the needs of children on the move – victims of rights violation.

 Member states should provide more infrastructural (shelters, child protection spaces, recreational facilities) to accelerate response to Children on the move – victims of rights violation.

 Establish and enhance social protection measures to strengthen vulnerable families

 Community mobilization to provide basic psychological support to children on the move – victims of rights violation.

 Promote legal access to services for children on the move – victims of rights violation

LAW ENFORCEMENT

There is the need to integrate cross-sectoral policies and create a more coherent framework for effective actions for the protection of children on the move - victims of rights violation.

In many States, laws do not adequately define and criminalize the various forms of sexual exploitation of children and young migrants in accordance with applicable international standards, therefore hindering the effective protection of children as well as the prosecution of these crimes.

Consistent law enforcement and the ending of impunity is too often hampered by the lack of adequate resources, structures for implementation and a lack of appropriate training of service providers.
Impunity for perpetrators of sexual exploitation of children and young migrant is often perpetuated by the lack of investigation and prosecution of offenders in the country where the crime takes place, and the lack of consistent and effective extraterritorial jurisdiction, often hindered by a ‘dual criminality’ requirement, and the lack of necessary extradition regulations and mutual legal assistance agreements and practices. We therefore recommend as follows :

 Enforcement of legislations on child protection in Member States.
 Member States to promote and enhance children’s participation in all matters affecting their lives, including in all administrative and judicial processes.
 Development of child friendly materials for easy transmission of key messages on child protection and related issues.

 Member States to harmonize International and Regional treaties.

 Integrate into the regional ECOWAS Child Protection Strategy the issue of children on the move – victims of rights violation.

CAPACITY BUILDING
Member states should ensure the following :

 Capacity needs assessment in the child protection space

 Training based on the capacity gaps to strengthen the child protection systems

 Incorporation of social work in our institution of higher learnings in Member States.
 Member States to enhance the capacities of stakeholders in child protection.

 Establish a platform for experience and best practices sharing among stakeholders in ECOWAS Member States

 Sensitization of all stakeholders in the fight against child trafficking in Member States
 Dissemination of ECOWAS standards and procedures for the reintegration and support to children on the move and young migrants.

DATA
Ensure the following :

 Establish/ enhance platforms for data sharing among Member States and conduct training on data management
 Build on ECOWAS data management systems in Member States
 Standardize the regional data collection tools to facilitate data collection and ensure accessibility to relevant authorities