The United Nations General Assembly in 1954 encouraged all countries of the world to set aside a day to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children and initiate action to benefit and promote the welfare of the world’s children. May 27 is traditionally the Children’s Day in Nigeria.
As Nigeria celebrates Children Day today 27TH MAY, the National Human Rights Commission reiterates the need to mobilize the political will and resources to confront the challenges facing Nigerian children.
We must do this as matter of necessity not only for the children but for the future of humanity.
The Children’s Dayoffers us an inspirational motivation to advocate, promote, protect, and celebrate children’s rights and translate into action our love for our children.
Let us commit ourselves to building a society where the rights of children remain paramount.The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989 (CRC) is a legally binding international agreement covering a variety of rights including, civil, political, economic, social, cultural and health rights of every child.
The CRC is one of the most ratified human rights treaty in history and has assisted in the transformation of the lives of Children all over the world.
Nigeria ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1991 and went ahead to domesticateit in the Child Rights Act of 2003 (CRA) as measure of her commitment to the principle of UNCRC.
Indeed the CRA strengthened the human rights provisions in Chapter 1V of the 1999 constitution as amended with regards to children.
Since 2003 the NHRC in Collaboration with other stakeholders has been championing the passage of the Child Rights Act into laws of the various states of the Federation.
As at today, only 25 out of the 36 states have passed the CRA into law in their various states.
The situation leaves a huge gap in our collective efforts to protectour children.The CRA is an important document to protect the human rights of the Nigerian child.
Specific rights of children under the Act include the right to survival, protection, family life, a name, private life, dignity, recreation, cultural activities, health and education.
The Act provides that in all matters concerning the child, the child’s best interest takes precedent.
NHRC strongly believe that the passage of the Child Rights Act by all state governments will go a long way in strengthening the capacity of Nigeria to build a better world for our children.
We therefore use the opportunity provided by the Children’s Day to reiterate the call on the states yet to pass the CRA to do so in the best interest of our Children.
As the world grapples with the challenges of COVID -19, children as vulnerable groups face growing risks. They need to be safe.
Many children are facing disorientation due to closure of schools, disrupted academic schedules and limited recreational activities basic to their survival and development.
They encounter domestic violence, sexual exploitation, torture, Inhuman and degrading treatment and other forms of abuse.
Parents need to take extra care of the children, help the children stay socially connected with friends and family within the protocols, support the child with information about COVID -19, teach them the basic hygiene, to wash their hands often withsoap and use of sanitizers and face masks to stop the virus from spreading.
In conclusion, the Commission wishes to use the opportunity of the 2020 Children’s day celebration to call on all states that have not passed the CRA to do so without further delay.
The passage of the Act will also help to address the problem of Almajiri once and for all.
The Children must be reunited with the parents and provisions made for their education in a structured and progressive manner as stipulated in the Child Rights Act.
The National Human Rights Commission joins the rest of Nigerians today in celebrating our Children.
Tony Ojukwu Esq EXecutive SecretaryNational Human Rights Commission.