By Monday Ogar
A call has gone out to the Cross River State Government, to properly put in place institutions and modalities aimed at protecting and ensuring children’s right in the state, as enshrined in the Child Rights Law of Cross River State.
The call was made by participants at a three days workshop organized by Basic Rights Counsel Initiative, BRCI and Stepping Stones Nigeria, SSN an international Non-Governmental Organization, NGO held in Calabar with the theme: “Child Justice System in Nigeria and Family Court”.
The seminar was aimed at arousing discourse on the protection of children rights in Cross River State and its environ.
Speaking at the event, Justice Joy Unwana emphasized that childrens’ rights should be protected by the state. ”A person under the age of 18 has rights and is entitled to protection under the law. These laws are enforceable, it has set out the entire system which the rights and responsibilities of a child can be enforced” she said.
Justice Unwana who delivered two papers titled “Child Justice System in Nigeria: Child Rights Law of Cross River State in Focus” and “The Family Court”, said the state needs to improve on its family court justice system, by not just the enactment of laws but by making sure there are institutions to aid the proper implementation of family court rulings.
Also speaking, Justice Emilia Ibok a Family Court judge in Cross River State said the lack of remand homes, children correctional facilities have hindered the implementation of child justice system in the state.
The family court judge went on to lament that the government is on a daily basis infringing and trampling on the rights of children on the streets even when it is government’s responsibility to take care of the children.
Another speaker, Mrs. Ndodeye Bassey while speaking on “Child Abuse and Harmful Social Cultural Practices” said child abuses are inclusive of female feticide, female genital mutilation, rape, incest, trafficking, forced prostitution, early marriage, son preference, debt bondage, acid baths etc. she maintained that until offenders are regularly punished heavily, crimes against children will still be attractive to offenders.
James Ibor, Esq. Principal Counsel of Basic Rights Counsel, BRC who doubles as the President, Basic Right Counsel Initiative, BRCI a Civil Society Organization, stated that it is the responsibility of all and sundry to make sure the government through the Ministry of Social Welfare and Community Development rise up to its responsibility in tackling crimes against children in the state.
The workshop also involved training for school teachers and social workers within and around the state.
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