First child-friendly gender-based violence court inaugurated in Accra

Mrs. Akuffo (middle),Hajia Samira Bawumia with the participants

Mrs. Akuffo (middle),Hajia Samira Bawumia with the participants

The first child-friendly gender–based violence court was inaugurated in Accra yesterday with the Chief Justice (CJ), Mrs Sophia A.B. Akuffo appealing to Ghanaians to support the course of establishing similar courts across the country.

The new court, being funded by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Canadian High Commission in Accra would ensure quality delivery of justice to minors, children, men, women, and victims of violence.

Delivering a keynote address at the inauguration attended by school pupils; the Second Lady, Hajia Samira Bawumia; Justices of the Supreme Court and police officers, the CJ noted that the wellbeing of every nation was determined by how the nation protected the dignity and human rights of every child.

She told participants that the court which would harness information technology to ensure expeditious trial, would provide the unique needs of witnesses, complainants, and accused.

The gender-based violence court she said is made up of a witness room, victim and evidence room, and close circuit television to enable court users to access fair and equitable justice.

The Chief Justice said the court would provide the physical and emotional needs of children to enable them to give evidence in court without fear or intimidation.

Mrs Akuffo said the number of defilement cases were disturbing, adding that in 2013, about 1,110 cases were reported.

The Chief Justice said she was concerned about low convictions on these cases, attributing the development to failure by victims to give evidence because of fear of their lives.

The Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana, Mrs Heather Cameron said the inauguration marked a significant milestone in justice delivery as it provides access to justice for all-women, men, girls and boys.

She said the creation of special features would ensure the safety of children.

Every year, the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVSSU) of the Ghana Police Service records approximately 1,300 cases of sexual abuse against children in Ghana, but the Canadian envoy believes the number might be higher, as many instances of sexual abuses are unreported.

She said the lack of understanding of the legal system made it difficult for children, particularly those from disadvantaged homes and children without parental care to get justice, adding that a child-friendly court is one of the efficient systems that cater for their special needs.

Mrs Cameron commended the Judicial Service and the government for building the capacity of judicial staff and personnel of the Ghana Police Service.

Mr Tony Forson, president of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) urged the court to use ordinary apparel rather than the prescribed judicial attire.

He asked for the use of simple language to enable children to understand the court proceedings.

BY MALIK SULLEMANA

 

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