Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dear Senator...

This is not a news item, event, resource or opportunity, and I do not know who Maryam Uwais is but she makes an eloquent argument in favor of children's participation in public hearings and important policy decisions in a letter to Nigerian Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello. Ms. Uwais criticizes Sen. Obasanjo-Bellow for not allowing children to speak at a recent hearing held to discuss a tobacco control bill, offers the Senator an explanation of the difference between a public hearing and a judicial hearing, and argues that the Nigerian constitution, the Child Rights Act of 2003 and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child all support the right of children to participate in such hearings.
"It is...regrettable that it is one of the main pillars of democracy, the Nigerian Senate, which purposefully denied children the opportunity to fulfill their rights and responsibilities, as entrenched under our Constitution, our laws and the African Charter. Cultural and religious prejudices towards children, coupled with our insecurities as adults, conveyed by a 'know-all' arrogance that continues to insist that we can speak for children and young persons (without listening to them) in matters that directly concern them, have only served as stumbling blocks to the realization of progress and development in our society.
Go Maryam!

Maryam Uwais' letter, "Know-All Arrogance is Stumbling Block to Progress"

Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Nigerian Child's Rights Act 2003

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

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