A Non-Governmental organisation, Child Rights International (CRI), and the Attorney-General (A-G) have filed seven legal issues for determination before the Supreme Court in a suit in which the former wants the court to declare as unconstitutional the plight of street children.
Led by its Executive Director, Bright Appiah, it is the case of CRI that the 1992 Constitution protects children and therefore by allowing children to fall victims to streetism, the government was violating the children’s constitutional right to education, health, human dignity, and denying them their social and economic rights.
The joint memorandum of issues agreed by the parties was filed pursuant to Rule 60 of the Supreme Court Rules, 1996 (C.I.16) following the directive of the Supreme Court.
Per C.I.16, the apex court has the power to adopt all the seven issues filed by the parties, amend them or form entirely new issues for determination.
The determination of the final legal issues which the court set out will culminate in the judgment as to which of the parties’ case the court will uphold.
This case is being monitored heavily by the public, considering the streetism menace in the country.
The seven issues agreed by the parties include: Whether or not the plaintiff has properly invoked the Original Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Articles 2(1) and 130(1)? Whether or not the reliefs sought by the Plaintiff are justiciable? Whether the current conditions of children living on the streets in Ghana violate Articles 28(1) (c) and (d), (2), (3) and (4) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana? Whether the current conditions of children living on the streets in Ghana are consistent with Articles (1), 15(1) and (2) and 35(4) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana?
The rest are: Whether the Government is in breach of Articles 28(1) (a), (d), (2), (3), (4), 13(1) and 37 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, for not taking urgent steps to ensure that children receive special protection against exposure to physical and moral hazards? Whether the Government is in breach of Article 28 (2) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, for not taking steps to ensure that children do not engage in work that constitutes a threat to their health, education or development? Whether the Government is in breach of Article 2S (4) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, for not taking steps to ensure that children on the streets are not deprived of medical treatment, education or any social or economic benefit.? Streetism is used to describe children who live and work on the streets due to a lack of family ties or worse still, stuck in manipulative relationships, where their guardians (or in certain cases parents) use them to support the household financially, through various activities on the streets.
The applicant, whose work seeks to protect and safeguard the social, educational and constitutional rights of children, is asking the court for a number of reliefs and declaration.
Among these are the declaration that the Government of Ghana is in breach of Articles 25(a), 28 (1) (a), (d), (2) (3) (4), 13(1) and 37 of the 1992 Constitution for not taking urgent steps to ensure that children do not engage in work that constitutes a threat to their health, education or development, and that children are not deprived of medical treatment, education or any social or economic benefit.
Again, the applicant is seeking an order directed at government to define by law penalties for child exploitation for begging or other forms of economic exploitation to punish all those who may try to benefit or gain money from children’s work; an order directed at government to improve the law on healthcare, by defining by law the provision of free primary health services to all poor children, children living in street situation or children in emergency situations.
Additionally, the applicant is seeking an order directed at the government to provide rules and procedures to be followed for the provision of free basic medical services to poor children, children in street situation or children in emergencies.
Again, it wants mechanism to include agencies that can ask for this help on behalf of children and an order to implement mechanisms to control and enforce the legal framework guaranteeing education for all children.
It is further seeking order directed at the government for procedures related to school enrolment of children in street situations and their provision with the necessary didactic material; and also, an order for government to submit to the court, not later than three months from the date of final judgment, a plan of action detailing all the steps, strategies, and measurable targets by which the defendants undertake to obey and perform the orders contained in the reliefs the applicant is seeking.
Moreover, the applicant is seeking an order directed at the government to submit to the court, two years from the date of final judgment and thereafter every six months until the expiry of the three-year plan of action, a report particularising all the steps taken, and targets met in obeying the orders of the court.
BY TIMES REPORTER