Senegalese civil society organization ‘RecontreAfricaine Pour Defense Des Droits De L’Homme (RADDHO), at a side meeting held at the ongoing ACHPR, met other human rights institutions to seek for reinforcement of ideas and recommendations to make a stop to the trend of child begging in Senegal commonly called ‘Talibe’ or ‘Almudo.’
The meeting took place on the 4 November, 2015, at Kairaba Beach hotel.
Speaking, Mr. Sadikh Niass, Secretary aux relation exterieures of RADDHO described the act as a total violation of the rights of children. He said it contravenes article 4, 7, 5, 12, 14, 15, and 21 which includes child denial to education, healthy life and encouraging child trafficking. He stated that a decision was passed by the committee of African Commission on human and people’s rights to stop such acts. However, he said the situation is still remaining unabated by Senegalese government.
Niass noted that the committee prefers local remedies to the situation but was quick to add that the international law is preferable in a situation where the local remedies are inefficient.
“A number of recommendations were made including child beggars ‘Almudo’, should be taken back to their families, international organization should facilitate their union with families, to be educated, the state of Senegal to ensure all the religious learning places comply to the proper standard or be closed,” he said. According to him, these recommendations are to stop child trafficking and impunity. “This act involved stakeholders such as marabouts, teachers, police and all should be trained. The government of Senegal was urged to submit report on the situation,” said Niass.
Madam Mame Couna Thioye, Coordinating Department of Women and Children unit, RADDHO, said her organization decided to step in the matter for the issue of child begging in Senegal is becoming a big phenomenon. She said this begging is having a big impact on children’s ability and described the issue as ‘frightening.’
According to her, RADDHO has been working on this matter since 2002 with the teachers to ensure the act is stopped. “After 10 years of active action, it is still a challenge especially the non implementation of law in Senegal that illegalized a child from begging,” Thioye explained. She added that they have collaborated with the Center for Human Rights, University of Pretoria in South Africa and other NGOs to solve the burden. “We filed a complaint emphasizing that the government has to ensure act ceased. We highlighted the inefficiency of the state for lacking respect for instruments on the protection of children,” said Thioye.
She added that they have also used the strategy for the case to be declared illegal but its non-admissibility due to low standard of NGOs in Senegal whose powers are curtailed by the law. She concluded that begging is a big violation of child’s right and that the implementation requires partnership with other organizations.
Responding by giving some guidelines on the litigation procedures, Mr Gaye Sowe, Secretary General of the Institute of Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) informed the RADDHO team the existence of African Children’s Charter Project (ACCP) which he said would help the situation. He described this matter as a crucial issue. However, he added that many people do not know about it.
“My office has two cases similar to this issue which are pending at the committee involving Malawi and Cameroon. In Malawi, we are challenging the law on definition of a child as child is considered from 16 of age. It is a violation when private actor rapes a child in Cameroon. It is our responsibility as CSOs to change such situations,” he remarked.
Mr.Sowe explained that the requirement is any document to be submitted should be in English and in French. He said the issue in Senegal does not concern them alone as children from the Gambia, Mali and Guinea Bissau are all part of it, therefore he described it as a sub-regional problem. He assured them that human rights defenders and other CSOs will partner with RADDHO to solve the issue through collaborative ideas.
Other speakers also recommended that RADDHO not only work with teachers but with local communities, parliamentarians and neighbouring countries as well.