Last edited: October 2005
Summary and Analysis
The Republic of the Gambia ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on August 3, 1990 and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child on December 14, 2000. Despite the positive gains made in social development, the absence of an existing corporate body of laws that focus entirely on children is one of the main obstacles in the Gambia's capacity to implement the Convention. There are no laws governing the representation of children in court proceedings in Gambia.
There is no standard definition of a child in the laws of the Gambia. Several domestic laws dealing with children have different age limits for children. Unfortunately, under customs and traditions children in Gambia do not freely express their opinion. Parents are given supreme discretion in the care of children and the boundaries of the family are one that is not overstepped by the courts. There is a nationally agreed definition of abuse binding on public and law enforcement agencies. Physical abuse and neglect are challenging social phenomena in the Gambia. Although both the Constitution and the Criminal Code prohibit child abuse and neglect, the enforcement of these laws is inhibited by social norms and practices.
The representation of children and Gambia's adherence to Article 12 of the CRC are two areas in which the nation had committed to improving by 2002 in its State Party Report to the UN. However, the Republic of Gambia has yet to submit another report regarding the CRC.
Related Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
1. State parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.
African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
Article 4. Best Interests of the Child
2. In all judicial or administrative proceedings affecting a child who is capable of communicating his/her own views, and opportunity shall be provided for the views of the child to be heard either directly or through an impartial representative as a party to the proceedings, and those views shall be taken into consideration by the relevant authority in accordance with the provisions of appropriate law.
Article 7. Freedom of Expression
Every child who is capable of communicating his or her own views shall be assured the rights to express his opinions freely in all matters and to disseminate his opinions subject to such restrictions as are prescribed by laws.
Children shall have the right subject to legislation enacted in the best interest of children, to know and be cared for by their parents.
Additional Resources and Links
Representation in the Gambia
Jallow, Hassan B., The Law of Evidence in the Gambia. 150-69. (Banjul, The Gambia), 1997.
 Gambia Constitution (1997).
Representing Children Worldwide | Copyright 2005 Yale Law School |All Rights Reserved