Expert workshop on child rights training for law enforcement officers in French-speaking Africa

Séance de travail, atelier des experts, Dakar, septembre 2011

Making child rights a reality in the work of authorities responsible for law enforcement.

Workshop duration : September 19th to September 23rd 2011

In November 2009, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (OHCHR), an initial brainstorming workshop was held in Ouagadougou. It brought together the IBCR, representatives from non-governmental organisations such Francopol and the International Organisation of La Francophonie, as well as representatives from some 10 police and gendarmerie schools in French-speaking Africa. The goal of the meeting was to raise participants’ awareness on children’s rights in general, and more specifically, on the application of the principle of the best interests of the child in police practice. The discussions held at this meeting revealed certain shortcomings among police and gendarmerie forces in their application of child protection standards, as well as a lack of consistent child rights training in educational institutions. Thus there was an urgent need to remedy this problem by working toward the development of a common strategy.

In response to the enthusiasm generated by this first workshop, the initiative was replicated the following year in Cotonou, Benin, to pave the way for a more ambitious project for spreading and popularising standards related to the protection and promotion of the rights of children in contact with the law. The meeting organised in Dakar in September 2011 by the IBCR and its partners was an extension of this approach and represented significant progress in the project.

Our goals :

The general goal of the programme, which has been underway since 2009 across the African continent, is to bring about considerable, sustainable and quantifiable improvement in the respect for children’s rights by security forces throughout the world by providing personnel with training that not only teaches them about children’s rights, but also teaches them to develop the competencies required to apply that knowledge.

To accomplish this mission, it was necessary to define a series of core competencies that all members of the security forces would have to acquire as part of their duties to enable them to develop the appropriate training and educational tools.

It was with this goal in mind that some 40 experts – lawyers, attorneys, psychologists, social workers, police officers, gendarmes, child protection specialists, representatives from NGOs and UN officials – from Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas, met in Dakar.

These men and women worked together for five days to improve the preliminary list of core competencies by revising the wording of each one and specifying their different elements. The resulting six core competencies were then adopted by consensus by the 15 delegations present at the Niamey workshop held in October and November 2011 .

This gathering also led to numerous recommendations for developing initial training that can be provided at police and gendarmerie educational institutions. The full report of the workshop can be found here .

  • Intervention locations : Dakar, Senegal
  • Project duration: du 19 au 23 septembre 2011
  • Partners :
    • Save the Children Sweden
    • UNICEF Senegal
    • UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa
    • The Senegalese government
  • Highlights:
    • Over 40 experts in attendance from across Africa, the Americas and Europe
    • Publication of a report
    • Six core competencies for child-friendly policing were unanimously adopted by the experts present
  • Fields of activity and expertise :
    • Capacity building
    • Applied research
    • Advocacy and institutional support
    • Children in emergency situations
    • Children and the justice system

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