Juvenile justice law needs reform — Child rights advocate

The Executive Director of Child Research and Resource Centre, Susan Sabaa, has punched holes in the Juvenile Justice Act 2003 (Act 653) and called for reforms to ultimately protect the rights of juvenile offenders and aid their reintegration back into society.

According to her, there were still gaps in the law which needed to be addressed to realise the full welfare and protection of ex-offenders in the country.

She made the remarks during the third edition of the “Thriving Child Seminar Series”, an event organised by the Compassion International Ghana (CIGH), an NGO, to build the capacity of their staff as well as other child care givers.

Speaking on the theme: “The Juvenile Justice System in Ghana —Current Realities and Needed Reforms”, Ms Sabaa shared insights into the various sections — Rights of Juvenile, Arrest and Caution (Part I), Juvenile Court (Part II), Junior Correctional Centres and Senior Correctional Centres (Part III) where she outlined various gaps which she said needed reform for a better rehabilitation.

“The law is not bad but there are still gaps that must be addressed if we really want to realise the full welfare and protection of children in this country. We need, for example, to expand the rights section and not just leave it at arrest but don’t touch the child.”

Ms Sabaa also underscored the need for psychosocial support for juvenile offenders to aid their reintegration back into society, saying it is an essential part of restorative justice efforts aimed at reducing recidivism and increasing public safety and social cohesion.

She expressed the worry that correctional centres did not offer formal transitional programmes and support adding that those were major threats to the successful reintegration of released ex-offenders into society.

She hinted that there was an ongoing review of the law pending cabinet approval and expressed optimism that when the review was done, the justice arena would deliver justice to children while upholding their rights and promoting their welfare.


For his part, the National Director of CIGH, Kobina Yeboah Okyere, said his outfit deemed it right to work with other organisations to understand the issues and render the necessary support to their children.

“The criminal system ends up hardening some of these children rather than transforming them and we believe that as an organisation with deeper interest in children, we need to understand the issues, the gaps in that space and to work collaboratively with like-minded organisations to see how best we can support in the reform process,” he said.

He expressed appreciation to the “Thriving Child Seminar Series” committee for always putting together informative events to equip their staff and to bring reforms in their work.

Source: graphic.com.gh