By Rohey Jadama Mrs. Fanta Bai Secka, Director of Social Welfare, has said that sheBai  Lowe does not have permission to talk to the press concerning the detention of Yusupha Lowe, a 13 year old boy, who has been detained for 57 days now without access to his family. Yusupha Lowe is the son of Baboucar ‘Bai’ Lowe, a former Warrant Officer Class 1 of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), who is alleged to be involved in the 30 December attack on state house and said to have fled. Yusupha is reported to have been picked up around 3pm from their family home in Lamin on the 1 January 2015 by agents who claimed to have been acting on orders from the Office of the President. When this reporter visited the Social Welfare Department on Wednesday, 25 February, 2015 to enquire from the Director about their position on the issue, the reporter accordingly complied when told by the Personal Secretary to write to the Director regarding the purpose of mission as she (Mrs. Secka) was going to a meeting. In a follow up yesterday, the Director said she had seen the letter but that she did not have permission to talk to the press. Also visiting the Child Protection Alliance (CPA) office earlier for the same purpose i.e. their position on the incommunicado detention of a child, Mr. Njundu Drammeh, the Director, said they have expertise in sexual abuses but not in juvenile justice. Section 66 of the Children’s Act states that “It is the duty of the Government to: 1. (a)  Safeguard, protect and promote the welfare of children” It also states that the Department of Social Welfare is responsible for the “Welfare of Children”. Children are human beings with rights. Section 5 of the Children’s Act states that “in addition to the rights guaranteed under Chapter 4 of the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia, every child” has additional rights. According to section 10 “no child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family life, home correspondence or attacks on his or her honour or reputation.” The United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Article 4 (Protection of Rights): “Governments have a responsibility to take all available measures to make sure children’s rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. When countries ratify the Convention, they agree to review their laws relating to children. This involves assessing their social services, legal, health and educational systems”. Article 37 (Detention and Punishment): “No one is allowed to punish children in a cruel or harmful way. Children who break the law should not be treated cruelly. They should not be put in prison with adults, should be able to keep in contact with their families, and should not be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without possibility of release.”]]>

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