By CHILD PROTECTION ALLIANCE (CPA)
CPA REACTS TO THE PARDONING OF CONVICT ON RAPE CHARGES BY PRESIDENT BARROW
The Child Protection Alliance has learnt with grave concern that President Adama Barrow has given clemency to four convicted pedophiles among thirty-seven prisoners by the powers vested in him under Section 82 (1) (a) of the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia, 1997. These four pedophiles were all charged and convicted of rape and sexual abuse of children between the ages of 4 and 14. As a body dedicated to child protection, we wish to express our total rejection of the decision to pardon these four convicted individuals and demand that Pres. Barrow rescinds his decision. These four individuals are Ousman Baldeh, Momodou Camara, Yankuba Njie and Nfamara Mballow.
We wish to remind the President and his Government that in a similar pardon in 2018 involving a convicted Norwegian man Svein Åge Sandåke for sexually abusing six children, the decision was rescinded following public outcry. We wish to therefore call on the President to exercise the same magnanimity to rescind the release of these four individuals similarly convicted for abusing children.
The Alliance would like to bring the attention of the authorities to the Welfare Principle of Section 3 of the Children’s Act 2005 which provides that, “The best interest of the child shall be the paramount consideration by any court, institution, person or other body in determining any question concerning a child.”
In view of this principle, it is our belief that extending the prerogative of mercy to Ousman Baldeh, Momodou Camara, Yankuba Njie and Nfamara Mballow all of whom have been found guilty of rape-related offences against children is a total contradiction of the spirit and aspiration of the above provision. The pardon of these four child rapists further undermines the Government’s obligations under Section 66(1)(a) to, “safeguard, protect and promote the welfare of children.”
The Children Protection Alliance wishes to remind the Government and indeed the rest of society that it does not serve the best interest of children when child violators are taken off the hook. Just as we continuously call on individuals to report any cases of child abuse to bring about accountability and greater protection of children, similarly we wish to call on the Government to ensure that those who are arrested, charged, prosecuted, and convicted of child abuse do face the full length of their accountability. Releasing convicted child abusers and pedophiles only serves to increase the vulnerability of children while weakening law enforcement and justice delivery measures for the protection of children.
We wish to therefore remind the Gambia Government of its national, regional, and international commitments to the protection of the rights and welfare of children. We urge the Government not to relent in its effort to strengthen national child protection mechanisms through effective law enforcement, investment, and greater collaboration with both national and international CSOs, partners and stakeholders. In this regard, we urge Pres. Adama Barrow not to release convicted child rapists.
Signed: Lamin Fatty