ECOWAS Court President Condemns Street Children Phenomenon

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Maria do Ceu Silva Monteiro

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Justice Maria do Céu Silva Monteiro, president of the ECOWAS Court, is worried over the exponential increase in street children phenomenon and the threat such poses to the security of the countries in West Africa

JUSTICE Maria do Céu Silva Monteiro, president of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, has condemned the phenomenon of street children in the region as an “unequivocal violation of the rights of children”.  Monteiro also attributed its “‘exponential increase’ on the inefficiency of the “competent institutions” charged with addressing the structural causes in order to minimise the suffering of the affected children.

“I must assert that the ECOWAS Court of Justice which holds the jurisdiction of Human Rights, will not fail to be sensitive to this phenomenon and seeks ways to address this trend in the spirit of Article 27 of the UN Convention on the Right of the Child,” the president said at the launching in Dakar on June 23, of a regional project towards the elimination of the syndrome in the region.

She called for concerted action in implementing the provisions of the Convention which guarantees “the right of the child to a standard of living adequate for their physical, mental, spiritual, social and moral development” while parents and the governance were assigned specific roles towards the realisation of the objectives outlined in the document.

UNICEF, the UN agency responsible for children, estimates that there are about 100 million children under this category, mostly  boys and girls under the age of 18  for whom the street, including unoccupied dwellings and wasteland constitute their home or source of livelihood and who are inadequately protected or supervised.

The Fund links the phenomenon to domestic, economic and social disruption including poverty, breakdown of homes and families, political unrest, sexual, physical and emotion abuse as well as religious and cultural factors manifested in West Africa in Almajiris in northern Nigeria, the Talibe boys in Senegal and in other parts of the region including Sierra Leone where 300,000 children are also without access to education.

ECOWAS has identified the phenomenon as one of the seven emerging security threats in the region along with drug/human trafficking, terrorism, challenges to democratic governance, piracy, Ebola and climate change.

Justice Silva Monteiro identified the “trivialisation of respect for live” as one of the causative factors and called for the convergence of interventions at the various levels in order to eliminate the phenomenon.

She expressed optimism that the regional project, which is being implemented under a two-year-action plan, will contribute to the well-being of the street children and the sustainable development of West Africa within the context of the ECOWAS vision 2020 for the realisation of a citizen-driven community.

The project is anchored on a multi-pronged and holistic platform with strong systems and support structures intended to ensure the eradication of the syndrome in the ECOWAS region and creates a protective environment for vulnerable children.

— Jul 6, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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