By Ndey Sowe
UNICEF-The Gambia country representative, Gordon Jonathan Lewis, calls for urgent measures to protect children and not to expose them to harm during the campaign period which began yesterday.
“Children attending rallies and roadshows could be vulnerable to stampede, violence, road accidents and unhealthy language and behaviour. If urgent measures are not taken, more children can be exposed to harm during the official campaign period which begins 9 November, 2021,” Gordon Jonathan Lewis said in a press statement; adding that UNICEF has noted with concern the involvement of children in large political gatherings in The Gambia, including during the nomination of candidates for the December 4 presidential election, and in several of these events, media coverage and independent photographs have shown children in the midst of large crowds.
According to Mr. Lewis, the Convention on the Rights of the Child which has been ratified by Gambia, provides children with the right to freedom of assembly which must be exercised consistently, together with their right to protection from manipulation, abuse and exploitation.
Gordon Jonathan Lewis emphasized: “Children must be protected from all activities that could be detrimental to their welfare and safety. Political parties, especially party leaders and independent candidates, have a responsibility to ensure that no child is exposed to harm or danger during their political activities, and should discourage the involvement of children in all political rallies and other large gatherings.”