As part of efforts to promote an effective child protection system in the country, a new policy has been launched aimed at protecting children who come into contact with the law, either as offenders, victims or witnesses.
The “Justice for Children Policy” (JCP) seeks to close the gap between formal and community ways of delivering justice on children’s issues, and thus build a united system more relevant and sustainable for the nation.
It recognises the need to prevent juvenile offences, promote formal and community justice systems to enhance access to justice for children, strengthen programmes for social integrations and protect children as witnesses and victims of crime.
It would also promote access to justice for children involved in family and other civil proceedings, guide the reformation of laws, policies and procedures to improve access to justice for children whiles providing financial and human resources for the implementation of the policy.
Throwing more light on the significance of the document, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, indicated that poverty, rapid rural-urban migration and family breakdowns had destroyed the supportive networks which catered for the needs of children.
That she said, had led to an increased demand for justice to address issues of child custody, maintenance and paternity, acts of violence and other crimes against children and those caught in conflict with the law.
According to her, the policy was guided by the principles of non-discrimination, the interest of the child, the right to protection of dignity and privacy of children, right to fair trial, legal representation, participation and protection of children.
As a result, she said existing structures would be built upon to increase responsiveness to the needs of children and better protect them from harm and exploitation.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. John Kudalor, who launched the document, underscored the importance of an effective justice system to build a resilient nation.
“The 2010 National Population Census revealed that Ghana has a youthful population and how we nurture, protect and secure the lives of our children will determine the prosperous nation we desire to build”.
The acting Commissioner for Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Mr. Richard Quayson, called for a “move away from paper works to practically invest in the implementation of the policy so that we don’t shatter the hopes of the future leaders”.
By Abigail Annoh