Justice for Children
UNICEF works with partners in Ghana to ensure that children in conflict with the law are protected
As the first country to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, Ghana has taken concrete steps to reform, improve and make effective its overall child protection system through legislation, policy and capacity building of government institutions responsible for protecting children.
Yet, the application of these laws and policies has been inconsistent. Ghana still suffers from the lack of specialized procedure to protect child victims and witnesses. Initially, the training of police forces did not include a course on children’s rights, although in many schools, police recruits did learn the acts and decrees relevant to children.
Juvenile justice is highly gendered, with many more boys coming into conflict with the law than girls
The actual data or number of children in contact and in conflict with the law is not known in Ghana but stealing and property-related offences are the most common types of crimes. Girls are ‘criminalized’ much more than boys for sex-related ‘offences’ such as ‘getting pregnant’, adultery or promiscuity, which are mostly deep-rooted in social stigma.
Lack of care and protection, and inadequate parental support and guidance is the single most important factor contributing to children committing crimes and making bad decisions. Most crimes committed by children are not reported to the formal authorities because it is still preferred to settle cases at local levels through chiefs and heads of families.
UNICEF Ghana supports the execution of the ‘Integrating Child-Friendly Policing into the Ghana Police Service’ initiative. Two sets of Standard Operating Procedures for child-friendly policing have also been completed, validated and printed. This is included in the curriculum for the Regional Police Training Schools and has been used in a series of trainings for new police recruits across all training schools.