Niger - Maliki Garba: "I like taking part in the reading and writing classes in the minors’ ward"
Maliki Garba, 15 years old, has been in custody has been offered access to basic education at the children’s ward of Niamey’s prison.
On November 20th, we celebrate anniversary of the Convention on the rights of the child. This portrait is part of a series that shows progress and challenges in advancing children’s rights in a region where some of the lowest human development indicators in the world are found.
Niamey, Niger, 5 November 2009 - Thanks to the comprehensive juvenile justice system being established in Niger, Maliki has been placed in a separate ward for young people where he is being offered basic education, psychosocial support, as well as carpentry and gardening instruction.
His right to special care and to a supportive environment as a child is being respected.
Rights denied/ rights obtained: Article 40 - Children accused of a crime shall be "presumed innocent," have the right to "a fair hearing" and must be "of a minimum age."
Impact on life or consequences: Maliki has been in custody at the minors’ ward in Niger’s capital’s main prison for two months, therefore placed in a separate ward from adults, and less vulnerable to violence and abuse.
He is being offered access to education as well as vocational training, also receiving psychosocial support to ease his reintegration into Niger’s society.
He will soon be offered a fair hearing at one of the country’s eight juvenile courts.
Maliki Garba – 15 years old
"My name is Maliki Garba. I am fifteen year-old and I live in Niamey. I was arrested 2 months ago and taken to the minors’ ward of Niamey’s prison, for the theft of a mobile phone in Niamey’s main market, known as the "Grand Marché".
It is the first time that I am in jail. I still haven’t been to the court. I stole the mobile phone because I needed money, I was too hungry and I needed to eat.
I had never stolen anything before. But I felt had to do it. At the moment the police caught me, I felt really shameful.
It was in the middle of the market and all the businessmen saw me. Then the police took me to my home, all the neighbours saw me, even my friends. That was even more shameful.
I don’t like being in prison. I miss my friends and my family. If I could get out today, I know I would never steal again.
Since I arrived in the prison my parents have never visited me. I think my parents are really disappointed about me.
When I am released, I will try and regain their confidence. I like taking part in the reading and writing classes in the minors’ ward.
I know that some of the other children did some gardening. It’s a good idea, I would also like to learn a trade, it is good for my future. I get along pretty well with the other youth here.
I know I am lucky to be in a separate space from the adults’. It is tough over there."
By Sandra Bisin