Mr Mustapha Sanah, Executive Director of Northern Ghana Aid (NOGAID), has appealed to religious and traditional authorities in the Northern Region, to educate their followers to desist from child-abuse, child trafficking and child labour practices.
This he said would guarantee the rights of children as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.“It is criminal to traffic a child or abuse a child in any form whether through forced labour or illegal migration.
“Leaders must get serious about ending this impunity in their communities by allowing state agencies to ruthlessly prosecute offenders when caught,’’ he said.
Mr Sanah was speaking at a day’s stakeholder forum on: ‘’Ending Child-Rights Abuses,’’ in Tamale, on the theme: “Ending Impunity in Child-Abuse – The role of community leadership.”The programme brought together religious leaders, the clergy, community opinion leaders and traditional rulers from the region.
They brainstormed on mechanisms to be adopted by stakeholders to improve the fight against the menace of child rights abuse, child labour, child trafficking and child-migration in the region.
Mr Sanah said NOGAID is setting up Community Child-Protection Volunteers, to work with statutory agencies to enforce the rights of children.
He warned that parents and guidance caught in engaging in child rights abuses and child trafficking and child labour would be reported to the appropriate statutory agencies for prosecution.
Mr Sanah expressed NOGAID’s determination to work with relevant government institutions and development partners to enforce child rights protection laws as enshrined in the Principles of The Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 1992 Constitution and the Children’s Act 1998(Act 560).
A 64-year- old Islamic Cleric, Mallam Wahab Tawfic, slammed Muslim parents for sending their young children out to major cities in search for greener pastures. ‘’I don’t think we can escape the blame for many of our children facing tough conditions in the cities.
“They are just not up for work ages and their absence from home are basically acts of illegality and anti-Islam,’’ he added.
Mallam Tawfic, who is also the Head of Mantanfa English and Arabic school in Tamale, described as blatant failure of parental responsibility by some irresponsible persons in endangering the safety and security of their children.
He said children are in trust to man from Allah, and deserve all forms of support and protection from their parents and guidance, therefore any act of irresponsibility on the part of their parents or guardians constitute an act of illegality and sin.
He lauded NOGAID for bringing stakeholders together to assist in ideas on how the situation could be eliminated in northern Ghana.
Madam Vida Atakaare, Gender Specialist at NOGAID and moderator of the programme expressed the need for community leaders to support government to succeed in fighting negative cultural and traditional practices that affect the development of children.
‘’Time has come for holistic and collective crusade to overcome incidence of child labour, migration and trafficking as well as other abuses in the form of trying to increase family income or cultural reasons.
“These children are exposed to all types of dangers and we are duty bound to protect them at all cost,” she said. She described such practices as harmful to the overall development of the child.