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Ghana judges urged to expedite trials on sexual-violence cases

Law2Mrs Dela Sowah, Deputy Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection has urged judges in the country to expedite judicial trials of sexual and gender-violent cases to ensure justice for the victims and stem the growing trend.

She expressed worry that many of such cases were not even reported to the law enforcing agencies while conviction is also not secured for culprits of the few cases that are reported.

“The current situation could not only erode confidence in the justice delivery system but embolden perpetrators to continue in their dastardly acts perpetuating rights violation of victims”, she added.

Mrs Sowah was contributing to discussions at a meeting with some selected judiciary staff and the Police Service in Tamale in the Northern Region on Friday aimed at finding solutions to challenges militating against to the speedy prosecution of gender-based violence cases in the country.

The dialogue was being supported by the Danish Development Agency (DANIDA) and the overall objective was to improve access to justice for victims of sexual and gender-based violence in Ghana.

Mrs Sowah indicated that it was a criminal offence for people to shield offenders of sexual-based violence cases without reporting them to the appropriate authorities adding “these are serious criminal offence to go unreported”.

She observed that the growing trends in the gender-based violence could be the results of social media and the availability of pornographic materials which were accessible to almost everybody in society.

Mr Patrick Seidu Saa, Northern Regional Director of the Department of Gender said 15,749 cases of gender-based violence were recorded at the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit across the country in 2015.

He said out of the figure, 4,500 cases were assaults on women, 316 were rape cases and defilement accounting for 1,180 stressing that these cases were just a tip of the iceberg since many more cases were unreported.

The Regional Director said the Northern region recorded 14 rape cases and 46 cases of defilement noting that there had been a general increase in gender-based violence against women especially in the second cycle institutions.

Mr Saa said the country has fulfilled its obligation in terms of access to justice under international and regional human rights instruments by putting in place laws and policies to enable citizens to seek redress at the law courts.

He mentioned the establishment of Juvenile Courts, Family Tribunals and Gender-based Violence Courts and some of the good policies that are aimed at expediting trials of gender-based violence and urged citizens not to hesitate in reporting such cases.

Source: GNA

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