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Regional News Sun, 30 Jun 2013

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Government urged to tackle juvenile issues

Barima Akwasi Amankwaah, Programme Officer, Ghana NGOs Coalition on the Rights of the Child (GNCRC), has urged the government to take a holistic approach in tackling juvenile justice issues.

He said as much as the country wanted to have good child system, some children would definitely fall prey to the law, and there must be adequate legislations on juvenile justice policies to give adequate protection to those children.

Barima Amankwaah, who was speaking at the third national stakeholders’ review forum to evaluate activities of regional and district social workers, said conditions at the country’s remand homes were very deplorable and not conducive for the children’s health.

“There cannot be any meaningful reform at such environment because, in some of the remands, the children have to sleep on the bare floor in a dilapidated building,” he said and called on the government to resource the various social welfare institutions to give proper protection to the children.

He said a three-year project embarked upon by the Plan Ghana and Child Rights International, had revealed that the regional and district social workers were inadequately resourced and in some cases they did not even have offices to operate from.

Barima Amakwaah said the project also observed that there was no collaboration among the stakeholders on juvenile justice programmes.

“We also realised that there was a lack of understanding of children’s issues among community members and as a result, most juvenile abuses were not reported to the appropriate institutions,” he added.

Ms Hilda Mensah, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF, said child abuse and other child molestation were still on the rise and called on all stakeholders to come out with innovations and suggestions that would improve juvenile and child protection issues in the country.

She said there was the need to strengthen Legislative Instrument on child protection as a way to take care of these children adequately and efficiently.

She said UNICEF was focusing on legislation, social service providers and attitudinal change and norms that did not augur well for children.

“We are also working with the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection to put up an advisory committee to design guidelines on social protection of the children, especially against child prostitution,” she said.

`Mr George Baiden, Chief Executive Officer, African Movement for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglection (AMPCAN), urged civil society organizations to pool their resources together to assist in the struggle.

Source: GNA

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