The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, has initiated moves to review and amend current legislative framework on Children.
Madam Otiko Afisah Djabah, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, said the review would address identified gaps and to also conform to the Child and Family Welfare and Justice for Children Policies.
She said despite the fact that Ghana had established a strong legal framework in legislation such as the Children’s Acts, 1998 (Act 560) and Juvenile Justice Act 2003 (653); the law and the practice were not in accord in the sufficient manner in which we would expect.
Madam Djaba made the disclosure on Tuesday in Accra at the National Consultative Meeting on the Review of the Children’s Act, Juvenile Justice Act and Related Laws.
The meeting was organised by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection under auspices of UNICEF, as part of efforts to address gaps in the laws relating to children Ghana.
Madam Djaba said the move to strengthen the child protection sector started vigorously in 2010 when the findings of a mapping report showed that there were gaps in the operationalisation of laws, policies and interventions.
She said the mapping also revealed among others that there were no overarching policies on children in Ghana.
She said this led to the development of two major policies namely, the Child and Family Welfare Policy and Justice for Children Policy.
Madam Djaba said the Child and Family Welfare and Justice for Children Policy were formulated to establish a well-structured and coordinated child welfare and Justice for children systems in Ghana.
She said these policies provide a comprehensive and detailed framework for all children in need of care and support including those who come into contact with the justice system. Whether victims, witnesses and alleged offenders.
Madam Djaba said in 2015 and 2016, the Child and Family Welfare Policy and Justice for Children Policy were approved by Cabinet and launched respectively.
The Minister said over the years of implementation, it had been realised that there are some gaps in the laws which warrant immediate steps to review them.
She said as per prior consultations carried out on these gaps, some child protection practitioners have indicated that the laws have not been designed to be culturally appropriate and sustainable within existing structures and available resources.
“Again, some of the laws have not taken into consideration, the emerging child protection issues such as surrogacy, adoption, lack of birth certificates, child trafficking and means that there is total legislative silence on these emerging issues,” Madam Djaba added.
She said the review process would involve participatory approach, consulting as many partners and stakeholders as possible to augment the quality of the legislative reform; adding that there would be series of districts, national and regional consultations.
Madam Djaba said the overall objective of this process was to review the Children’s Act, Juvenile Justice Act and other related laws for purposes of submitting to Parliament proposed amendments in these laws.
“Ghana 60 years, and beyond 60 years, will be better served by the quality of the review we produce; and our children today and tomorrow will thank us,” the Minister said.
She urged the media to desist from sensationalising children’s issues; adding that whether they were suspects or witnesses in a case, they are still children.
Mrs Rushana Murtaza, the Acting UNICEF Representative to Ghana, said about 20 per cent of Ghana’s children were involved in some kind of hazardous and exploitative forms of labour and ‘certainly trafficking is a reality in Ghana’.
She lauded Ghana for being the first country to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Mr Vitus Gbang, Manager, Law and Development Associates (LADA), the consultancy firm for the Legal Review Process said having operationalised these laws for close to 20 years, there is the need for Ghana to constantly review them to ensure that they compile with international best practices.