Banjul, 08 November 2021 –UNICEF has noted with concern the involvement of children in large political gatherings in The Gambia, including during the nomination of candidates for the December 4thpresidential election. In several of these events, media coverage and independent photographers have shown children in the midst of large crowds.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been ratified by The Gambia, provides children with the right to freedom of assembly but that right must be exercised in a manner consistent with their right to protection from manipulation, abuse and exploitation.
Children attending rallies and roadshows could be vulnerable to stampedes, violence, road accidents and unhealthy language and behaviour. If urgent measures are not taken, more children could be exposed to harm during the official campaign period which begins on 09 November 2021.
Children must be protected from all activities that could be detrimental to their welfare and safety. Political parties, especially party leaders and independent candidates, have a responsibility to ensure that no child is exposed to harm or danger during their political activities, and should discourage the involvement of children in all political rallies and other large gatherings.