Media advised to protect identity of children who break the law

By Gifty Amofa/Florence Oppong, GNA

Accra, Sept.28, GNA – Lawyer Clarke Noyoru,
Project Co-ordinator of the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) has called on the
media to avoid giving too much information on juveniles who had had a brush
with law.

He explained that some journalists though
would not mention the name of minors who had had conflict with the law or had
had contact with the law but the description they give exposed them.  This, he said was wrong.

Mr Noyoru brought this up during one of the
regional fora of a three-year project, starting this year, sponsored by the
European Union dubbed “Justice for Children: Bridging the gap between
legislation and practice,” held in Accra on Thursday.

 He
advocated that journalist should report on issues but not the detailed
information that leads to stigmatisation.

 “Children cannot be blamed for becoming social
deviants because some get to that stage due to divorce and especially, the
breakdown of the extended family system that supported them whilst criminals
also capitalise on them,” Mr Noyoru said.

Mr Noyoru said children who committed criminal
offences (conflict with the law) and those who were called in as witnesses or
charged for abetment (contact with the law) should not be treated the same way
as adult offenders were treated.

He cited the situation whereby they were
arrested, molested, tried by a court without jurisdiction and kept in adult
cells, as not the best, as such situations hardened them, resulting in
recidivism.

Children who were in conflict with the law
were supposed to be kept at a correctional centre for reformation, which was
limited in the country and even not conducive, he noted.

The Project Coordinator said they should not
always be taken through the legal system as their cases could also be settled
out of court or even after committal, they should be released into the society
and monitored by a social welfare worker.

He called on stakeholders to always do
pro-bono services (render free services) because justice for children was not
always successful without free services.

Ms Daphne Lariba Nabila, Executive Director of
LRC said the aim for the forum was to bridge the gap between legislation and
practice within the Ghanaian Child Justice System to ensure that children who
fell on the wrong side of the law were properly treated and protected.

Therefore, LRC in conjunction with the
Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Parliament, Commission on
Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Judicial Service, Prisons Service,
among other stakeholders would promote that.

She said the programme was to help increase
the legal assistance to children in conflict with the law, to strengthen
partnership with stakeholders in the justice controlling system, to increase
the capacity of security personnel in promoting the rights of children and to
effect legal and policy reforms.

The Executive Director said the regional
consultative programmes were held to propose policies for the amendment of
specific legislation including the general justice sector, traditional leaders,
and security agencies, while encouraging experts, school children and other
regional stakeholders to identify gaps in the administering of justice within
the justice delivery system in Ghana.

Also decisions taken during the programme will
be used as reform proposals to review comprehensive policies for administering
justice for children, she added.

Participants called on the Ghana Education
Service to collaborate more with the National Commission on Civic Education to
educate the children on how to be law abiding.  

GNA   

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