The Chronicle Gambia

Human Rights Commission Investigates Bilal Boarding School Deadly Fire Outbreak

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has announced that it is investigating the deadly fire outbreak that claimed the lives of seven kids at the Bilal Boarding School in Yarambamba, West Coast Region, on 17th October 2021.

The NHRC said in a press statement that it “is extremely saddened by the news of the death of children in the fire incident NHRC extends its deepest condolences to the families of the victims, their fellow students, and friends. It also wishes a speedy recovery to those students who are currently hospitalized”.

NHRC is currently investigating this sad incident to establish the exact cause of the fire and the circumstances surrounding the occurrence. With the outcome of this investigation, NHRC will engage with the relevant Government authorities to ensure full accountability.

NHRC wishes to reiterate that State institutions with oversight for children’s protection, in particular the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, should ensure that childcare centers and private residential care homes, including boarding schools of every sort, conform to the dictates of Sections 198 – 203 of the Children’s Act 2005, with Minimum Standard of Care implemented in full. Furthermore, these State institutions’ obligations are to regularly inspect these facilities, rigorously monitor the implementation of these standards and guidelines, and severely penalize those care institutions and facilities found wanting.

NHRC calls on the school and other relevant authorities to ensure that students present at the time of the incident receive the necessary psycho-social support to overcome the shock and trauma this may have caused. The Government, parents, and caregivers must always seek children’s best interest and ensure their safety under care or in their homes as protected by law.

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