Abdul Manaff Kemokai, Executive Director of Defence for Children International - Sierra Leone, Receives 2016 Child 10 Award
Stockholm / Freetown – The rights of Sierra Leonean children took centre stage yesterday at the Child 10 Summit 2016, held at the Grand Hôtel in Stockholm, Sweden. Abdul Manaff Kemokai, Executive Director of Defence for Children International – Sierra Leone, received the Child 10 Award, which has been launched by the Sophie Stenbeck Family Foundation and Reach for Change in order to recognise, support and connect bold leaders of grassroots organizations that work with innovative solutions to address urgent and pressing issues for children.
Mr. Kemokai was granted the Child 10 Award to honour his tremendous work over the past decades to increase access to justice for children and to empower children to demand their rights.This year’s award was particularly granted for the establishment and management of community-based legal centres that offer assistance to youngsters who have ended up on the streets.
“Exposition is discrimination,” said DCI - SL Executive Director, Abdul Manaff Kemokai. “It both reflects and reinforces the discrimination against youngsters”.
In Sierra Leone, progress has been achieved in combating exploitation of children at the national level. There is a growing visibility of violence against children on the policy agenda, and efforts in advocacy are having a growing impact on improving adherence to international standards on children’s protection from violence particularly through the ratification and implementation of the optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
Unfortunately, insufficient investment in violence prevention, uncoordinated policy interventions, unconsolidated and poorly-enforced legislation, scarce data and research on the issue and limited recovery and reintegration services remain a huge barrier to development of children in Sierra Leone.
Defence for Children International – Sierra Leone, as a child protection organisation has established six (6) local socio-legal defence centres that offer assistance to youngsters who have ended up on the streets.
Mr. Kemokai said, “It is not uncommon to see children exploited as domestic workers, while others end up in the streets. Many street children in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have become involved in criminal activities because their most basic needs cannot be satisfied.Many of them are arrested by police for loitering, or rounded up at police raids. But as far as the police is concerned, the punishment of street children continues to prevail over protection mechanisms to get them out of the streets. They need help, and we need the whole situation to change: this is why we are here for.”
During the award ceremony, Mr. Kemokai said he was receiving the award on behalf of Defence for Children International – Sierra Leone, and dedicated it tosurvivors of exploitation, violence and abuse.
Nine other child rights activists were awarded the prize, including: Josefa Condori Quispe (CAITH, Peru), Anta Mbow (Empire des Enfants, Senegal), Martine Umulisa (Kaami Arts, Rwanda), Christopher & David Mikkelsen (REFUNITE, Denmark), Debbie Beadle (ECPAT UK Youth Programme, UK), Eve Saosarin (M’LopTapang, Cambodia), Delphine Moralis (Missing Children Europe, Belgium), Nyakwesi Mujaya (Makini, Tanzania) and Margaretha Ubels and Ishmael Hammond (Special Attention Project, Ghana).