It could be recalled that on Wednesday 22nd May, 2019, the children of this country converged at the St. Edwards Caritas Hall, Kingtom in Freetown for a consultative meeting on the children’s view for a lasting peace in the country and the establishment of a Peace and Cohesion Commission.
In her address, a spokesperson for children in Sierra Leone stated at the Bintumani III Conference that the need for a lasting peace and the establishment of a Peace and Cohesion Commission will be of importance to the children of this country than any other category of people. The reasons for this she said are obvious given the following facts;
- During crisis and conflicts it is the children that suffer most
- Children are vulnerable and they rely on adults for their sustenance and protection
- Children often suffer abuse from adults
She added that the children thanked the President for his free quality education initiative, his intention to expand the free health care services to include more children and his tough stance against perpetrators of sexual violence against women and children.
‘This is a great step towards ensuring the welfare and protection of children in the country,’ she said.
She added however that more needs to be done to ensure the welfare and protection of children because the peace and stability of this country has a great nexus to child welfare and child protection.
She said: ‘As I speak to you even with the free education initiative, we still have thousands of children, especially in rural areas, without proper access to education and school materials, children have not been given the opportunity to participate on issues affecting them, we still have street children, high rate of child prostitution, and child trading, Children in most parts of the country don’t have access to proper health care facilities, we have more children also being caught up in the justice system without proper redress thereby suffering injustice. There is child labor, child trafficking, and other cruelty being perpetrated against children in the country. The above mentioned situations are even worse for children with disability and teenage mothers,’ she said.
According to her, children’s position is for an everlasting peace in the country and the establishment of a peace and cohesion commission.
‘We recommend that the commissioners and staff of the commission should not be chosen on political and tribal lines, there should be a child commissioner and children should be represented in all levels in the commission. The Commission should have a mandate to ensure lasting peace and stability in the country. Child Protection Organizations, Civil Societies should also be part of the Commission, the Commission should be decentralized across Districts and regions in the country, and people from all facet of life should also be represented in the commission. The Ministry of Social Welfare should be represented in the commission in order to seek the welfare and protection of everyone,’ she maintained.
This Position Paper discussed by the children looked at:
- Structure of the Commission
- Mandate of the Commission
- Child Welfare – what do we want to see for ourselves