Gambia has been ranked as 126th in the world on how effectively children can use the courts to defend their rights according to new research from Child Rights International Network (CRIN).
The new report, ‘Rights, Remedies and Representation’, takes into account whether children can bring lawsuits when their rights are violated, the legal resources available to them, the practical considerations for taking legal action and whether international law on children’s rights is applied in national courts.
Gambia has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), but it does not take precedence over national law and so is not directly applicable in the national courts. The legal system of Gambia is based on common law, but customary practices and Sharia law are also applicable. Legal aid is available to children bringing claims, but there are concerns about the limited use of legal aid due to the lack of resources. As only three equipped Children’s Court are presently in operation, cases take a considerable amount of time to be resolved. After national remedies have been exhausted, complaints can be lodged with the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice.
Achieving access to justice for children is a work in progress and the report represents a snapshot of the ways children’s rights are protected across the world. The report condenses findings from 197 country reports, researched with the support of hundreds of lawyers and NGOs and is intended to help countries improve access to justice for children nationally.
Director of CRIN, Veronica Yates, said: “While the report highlights many examples of systems poorly suited to protecting children’s rights there are also plenty of people using the courts to effectively advance children’s rights.
“Our ranking represents how well States allow children access to justice rather than how well their rights are enshrined. However, it is hard to ignore how many countries with deplorable human rights records are on the lower end of the ranking for children’s access to justice.”
In the foreword of the report the chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child Benyam Dawit Mezmur said: “The Committee welcomes this research and already envisages its concrete contribution to its various engagements with State Parties.
“Child rights standards in international instruments do not mean much for the lived reality of children if they are not implemented. In particular, if the fundamental rights of children are violated, it is critical that children or those acting on their behalf have the recourse, both in law and in practice, to obtain a remedy to cease, prohibit and/or compensate for the violation.
“I hope this study is only the beginning of a new shift in making access to justice for children a priority that will enable other rights to be fulfilled.”
Notes to editors
We are able to provide answers to questions about the report in English ([email protected]), Arabic ([email protected]), French ([email protected]), Russian ([email protected]) and Spanish ([email protected]).
Child Rights International Network (CRIN) is a global research, policy and advocacy organisation. Our work is grounded in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Our goal is a world where children’s rights are recognised, respected and enforced, and where every rights violation has a remedy.www.crin.org
Our work is based on five core values:
– We believe in rights, not charity
– We are stronger when we work together
– Information is power and it should be free and accessible
– Societies, organisations and institutions should be open, transparent and accountable
– We believe in promoting children’s rights, not ourselves.–