From ACJR & Reformar: It was reported from Guinea Bissau on 20 March 2023 that a new law will prohibit Islamic leaders using children for begging. The President of Guinea-Bissau, Umaro Sissoco Embaló ordered that from Monday, 27 March 2023, child mendicity will be prohibited and that fathers or Koranic teachers of any child caught begging in the streets of the country would be arrested. The President considers shameful to send children in the streets of Bissau and neighbouring countries to raise support for their Koranic teachers. The regular practice perpetrated by some Islamic leaders have created an alarming phenomenon nationally and in the region.
As members of the global Campaign to Decriminalise Poverty and Status advocating for the repeal of laws that target people based on poverty, status or for their activism, we are, however, concerned for those children who beg on the streets not sent by their religious teachers, but forced by their economic and social situation. For those children, mendicity may be the only means of subsistence because the state may not have adequate social, economic and other relief measures in place to combat their poverty. By prohibiting all children from begging, the President is putting these children at risk of further harm.
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