Save the Children, an international NGO working in Sierra Leone for the welfare of children, has congratulated the government on the signing of the Child Rights Bill.
The INGO, in a press release, points out that the challenge now is to implement the Act across the country and it will support the government to do this, but urges them to make a start straight away.
Following much debate by parliamentarians, on 7 June the government passed the long-awaited Child Rights Act, Sierra Leone’s biggest law for children.
This came just four weeks after the Vice President pledged that the Act would be signed by 19 June at the latest.
According to Save the Children, news of the Act’s signing quickly reached children and parents across the country. As far as Kailahun District, children celebrated the news.
The release relates that, “speaking out against child abuse in her community, 15-year-old Kailahun Children’s Club member, Adama Mansaray, said ‘I am happy that the Child Rights Bill is signed. If somebody now does any harm to children, he or she will be punished; the law will fall on them”.
“Her Children’s Club colleague, Agnes Joseph felt that the Act enables her to play a role in the future of the country,” the release continues and quotes Agnes Joseph who remarked that “I will now be a part of decision making in my community and in the country at large”.
The Child Rights Act protects children against trafficking, as well as requiring that all children have free, compulsory education. It also prohibits early marriage, corporal punishment and protects children against abuse.
The signing of the Child Rights Act is a landmark in the campaign to promote children’s rights in Sierra Leone.
According to the release, Mohammed Sannoh working in Freetown for Save the Children described the news “as a great day for children.”
“The Child Rights Act can make a big change in the lives of children in Sierra Leone. Having worked for Save the Children in the most rural villages and now in the congested areas of Susan’s Bay and Kroo Bay, I have met with many children who will benefit from the Act’s protection,” Mohamed pointed out.