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“Children’s Rights Not Very Shiny In Gabon, Minister Says

Erlyne Antonela Ndembet-Damas, the Gabonese Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals has said the situation of children’s rights in the country “is not that shiny” and called for the harnessing of efforts for coordinated action towards the protection of the rights of children.

“This situation is explained by the fact that numerous parents do not always assume their responsibilities in this domain. This is thus the place to remind all that more than the state, each parent has many responsibilities towards his/her child. 

“It is first of all incumbent on each one of us to protect the child’s security, health and morality, to assure the child’s education and to ensure his/her development in the respect of his/her person,” the minister said.

Ndembet-Damas who made the pronouncement in Libreville on Tuesday in a speech to mark the Day of the African Child which theme this year was “Access to a Justice System Adapted to Children in Africa” revealed that the Gabonese government had decided to celebrate the day under the national theme “The Preponderance of the Rights of the Child Even during the Period of Confinement”.

The minister recalled the various mechanisms and strong actions as well as instruments put in place by the public authorities with a view to protecting children from the consequences of the evils present in the society. 

“This is an occasion to underline the fact that there has always been a special dispensation for child protection even when this is in conflict with existing laws,” the minister declared.

The Keeper of the Seals assured the national population that the actions taken by the state were made more efficacious through the assistance of the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

The minister also mentioned the “special and incessant engagement” of First Lady Sylvia Bongo Ondimba in favour of vulnerable persons, particularly children, and also cited the work of “all the public and private actors in the national system of child protection who have never ceased to mobilise by working in conditions which are sometimes difficult”.

Referring to cases of abandoned children or little children left alone by roadsides and exposed to danger in the society, the minister said “the government would work towards reinforcing legislation concerning the responsibility of parents whose children are abandoned without care thus becoming victims of acts that endanger their physical integrity and their lives”.

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