The declaration was made by Minister Minette Libom Li Likeng at a ceremony organisezed by ODEAC in prelude to the commemoration of the 33rd edition of the International day of the African Child, at Hotel la Falaise in Yaounde on June 13th, 2023. In prelude to the commemoration of the international day of the African Child, the observatory on the Rights and Welfare of the Child for Central Africa (ODEAC), organized a sensitization program and a platform for children to advocate for their rights.
Adding her voice to those of the children representing countries of the sub-region, the Junior Parliamentarian of Yaounde 3, Nadine Annie Ndongmo mentioned the different forms of violence meted on children and the advantages and disadvantages of the social media to the child. She equally acknowledged the efforts of the respective Governments, parents and educators in protecting the child but pleaded that these measures and actions be stepped up especially by the ratification of the Malabo convention on cybersecurity by all the Central African countries.
The event which is at its 33rd edition placed under the theme: “The Rights of the Child in the Digital Environment”, gave the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications the appropriate platform to reassure the child of government’s relentless efforts in protecting these rights most especially those online. According to the Minister, 90% averagely of children who are connected online, are registered on the different social media platforms as follows; Whatsapp 80%, Instagram 45%, Facebook 30%, Snaptchat 30%, and Twitter 21%. The same study reveals that more than half of them are connected 12h/24. These statistics on its own prove how exposed and vulnerable children are to the hidden face of social media.
"The Government isn’t insensitive to these facts," said the Minister. The on-going national campaign to promote the culture of cybersecurity and raise awareness on the responsible use of social media, empowering youths in ICT to better use the internet, intensify International collaborations to address cross-border challenges related to children’s rights in the digital environment, establishing appropriate policies and regulations promoting collaboration with internet service providers and online platforms for the implementation of effective security measures, the organization of annual ICT Holiday Camps for children from rural and semi-urban areas all constitute protective measures for children online. Most recent, she continued is the charter for child protection online instructed by the Head of State which is under study at the National Assembly to help ameliorate the system of child protection on the internet. “I therefore call on you to be responsible, apply the teachings, believe in yourself and use the talents you have, the whole continent is counting on you.” the Minister said to the children.
According to Mr. AROGA Desire, President of ODEAC, the organization was created to address the insufficiency in qualitative and quantitative information on the situation of the law on children in Central Africa, a weakness that has limited the scope of intervention by authorities.
This gentle reminder, the international day of the African child is celebrated every 16th of June in memory of the massacre of the children in Soweto – South Africa on 16/06/1976 who took to the streets claiming their right to education and protesting against the apartheid regime back then in their country.