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Juvinille Justice Delivery And Child Vulnerability In Ghana - Legal Aid holds two workshops

WP 20150413 017

A FOUR DAY WORKSHOP HAS BEEN ORGANISED BY THE LEGAL AID SCHEME ON JUVINILLE JUSTICE DELIVERY AND CHILD VULNERABILITY IN GHANA.

 DATE: 8TH – 13TH FEBRUARY, 2015                                     and                                      12th -17th APRIL, 2015                                               

VENUE: ANITA HOTEL, EJISU (ASHANTI REGION)          and                                   CHANCES HOTEL, HO (VOLTA REGION)

SPONSOR: UNICEF GHANA                                                 and                                     UNICEF GHANA                                                         

 

INTRODUCTION

The world is vulnerable; women and children are seen as being the most vulnerable in society with children as particularly so and as such needs special attention in handling their cases both at the family level and at institutions. 

Ghana’s constitution has defined a child as:  “a child is anybody who is below eighteen (18) years”. The child at this stage is considered unable to take decision and as such needs adult’s guidance.

The Children’s Act, 1998 (Act 560) and the Juvenile Justice Act, 2003 (Act 653) states that, when handling matters involving children, their best interest must be at the center as observed in section 1 (2) of the Juvenile Justice Act 2003 (Act 653): ‘a juvenile shall be dealt with in a manner which is different from an adult, except under exceptional circumstances under section 17.

The mandate of LAS is basically to ensure that justice is provided to the vulnerable particularly children. The Juvenile Justice System is a specialized area and as such anyone dealing with matters of same needs special attention hence the aptness of the workshop.

OBJECTIVES

The objectives of the workshop inter alia aimed at enhancing staffs knowledge in; Child Rights and Responsibility, Juvenile Offending, Procedure in Juvenile Courts and Pre & Post Trial Issues Related to Children, etc.

The Children’s Act, 1998 (Act 560) and the Juvenile Justice Act, 2003 (Act 653) were the relevant documents that were used for the training. Other relevant areas that this report covers are child participation, child development and child vulnerability.

  • To understand who a child is and why they need special consideration.
  • For non-lawyers to understands some basics in the children’s act, 1998 (Act 560) and the Juvenile Justice Act, 2003 (act 653).
  • To appreciate and understand child development, vulnerability and participation.

 

MAJOR ACTIVITIES

Presentation by Stephen Adongo ( A Social Welfare Officer):

The above-named presenter made the following remarks:

I oblige to brief you on concept of child vulnerability especially with regards to children who are most likely to fall through the cracks of regular programs using social protected terminology. 

The basic differences between and adult and a child are that: an adult appears taller and think faster while a child appears smaller and think more slowly. It is also obvious that and adult is older, stronger, wicked, mature, independent, and knowledgeable as well as experienced while a child is weak, innocent, ignorant, childish and dependent. All these sign of vulnerability demonstrate how necessary it is for child protection and the need to help them discover their rights and potential in society.

Vulnerable children need to be given special attention so as to remove the barriers that prevent equal participation in projects designed for the benefit of all children.

  • Children’s needs :

 Food, Clothing, shelter, healthcare, education, love, attention and protection and the parents have to provide all their needs.

It is also the collective responsibility of the family, community and the district as a whole to provide the needs of children.

  • Vulnerability:

Vulnerability exists everywhere in society; at home, school places, public places, justice system, cultural setting and religious communities.

  • Child Development

Child development refers to the biological stages of growth as set out as follows:

  • Eighteen (18) months -Infancy
  • Two (2) to three (3) years- childhood
  • Three (3) to five (5) years- Preschool is
  • Six to twelve (12) years-School Age is
  • Thirteen to nineteen(19) years- Adolescent age

After outlining these points the moderator came out to teach the participants how to handle cases being reported to their outfit.  He stated by giving a case where by a girl who has been rape by a man and the matter has been reported to the Legal Aid Officer and an observer.  In dealing with this type of case you have to follow the following principle:

  • Create a convenient place of discussion
  • Environment clears for the child to feel at home
  • Avoid authoritative language that may scare the person
  • Be friendly with the child so that you can get correct information from the person.

Last but not the least the Director also came out to ask participant whether all that the social welfare officer thought on concept of vulnerability was well understood or they should take some of the topics out, but the participant said all the topics where important.

 

 

Presentation by Lawyer Martin Kpebu

Child Right

We also went further to learn about the Child Rights by Lawyer Martin, another presenter on child legal matters

The Act defines a child as a person below the ages of eighteen ages (18) for the purpose of article 28 of the 1992 constitution a child means a person below the ages of eighteen years.

The best interest of the child should be paramount issue in society and must be require diligent attention. Every child has the right to life dignity, respect, leisure, Liberty, health, education and shelter from the parents.

Every parent has the right and responsibility whether imposed by law or otherwise towards his child which include the duty to:

Protect the child from neglect, discrimination, violent, abuse, exposure to physical and moral hazard and oppressions.

The lawyer went further to say that if the child is below sixteen (16) years the child is not allow to married by only consent to sex unless you are eighteen (18) years the law can permit such child  to married.

  • The child has the right to vote at the age of eighteen (18) years
  • The right to name the nationality
  • The child has the right to grow up with the parent.
  • The parent has the right to displace the child
  • The parent has the right to send the child to school.

Juvenile

We also talk about how the juvenile and the adult are being handled in case of the juveniles that is does below of the age of 18th years when you have a case with such a child you have to separate them from the grow up prisoners of the remand prisoners.  This is normally been done by a social worker or probation officer from the social welfare office to handle such case.

 

 

Presentation by Lawyer Augustine Obour

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Criminal Law

Lawyer Obour also thought us certain accept of the criminal Law which some of the juvenile and other people who are languishing in court without being trail by the lawyers or the state.  In this most juveniles are below ages of 18 years but because the police always keep them on remand without investigation to know the real ages of the culprit. 

  • Common Law

According to Lawyer Martins, Common Law means Law thought by the judges (laws made in Ghana). He went further to spelled out how a juvenile has been trial in the juvenile court this is normally being done in a closed doors i.e. the prosecutor juvenile family and the father or mother and any relative. Furthermore, if a juvenile cannot swear normally they allow such a person to go straight by giving evidence instead of him lying or swearing of the Bible or Koran.

  • Trials:
  1. Legal representation
  1. Right to be silent
  2. Right to be present
  3. Right to be legal Aid Client
  4. Juvenile has the right to counsel.

 

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