President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf over the weekend launched the implementation of the new Children Act, which obligates government, parents and guardians to uphold the basic rights of children as enshrined in the law.
“We will make sure that your rights are protected”, President told over 7000 children Saturday in Monrovia amidst cheers from the kids, many of whom were forcibly conscripted into various armed factions during the 14 years Liberian civil war. The formal launch of the law by the President after it was enacted last year by the Liberian Legislature has sent a strong challenge to both government and parents or guardians to prioritize the well-being of children.
In many homes across the country, children lack access to basic health, food, clothing, shelter and education, among other needs. Most children live in homes without their biological parents, which deny them emotionally fulfillment. The Children Act will make impact in our society only if government begins to formulate appropriate practical programs for children, particularly less fortunate ones languishing in so-called orphanage homes in the country.
The right to basic primary education and health is a cardinal to the implementation of the children’s law therefore; the social welfare program at the Ministry of Health should be well supported in meeting the needs of our children because they are future. It is our hope that the law will be very rigid on those parents, who abandon the welfare of their children, leaving the innocent kids to roam the street in search of survival at an early age when they should be under parental care and discipline.
For 14 years our children were exposed to arm violence by power-greed politicians, gambled their future for state power. Many of the kids were drugged by rebel commanders and told to embark on killing spree during the civil crisis. In the process, many of them lost limbs, arms or were killed.
Today, one of the former warlords Dr. George S. Boley, who commanded the disbanded Liberian Peace Council or LPC, is being deported from the United States for his role in the abuse of Liberian children. Dr. Boley testified before the former TRC in Monrovia and denied any wrongdoing.
Dr. Boley’s fate should ring bell to all ex-warlords and those in authority that children’s rights are universal human rights which should be respected always. In spite of their tender ages, children should be treated as human beings; they need to be listened and responded to.