Ten new child-friendly courts established in Ghana with support from Denmark and UNICEF
Two new child-friendly gender-based violence courts were inaugurated on 11-12 November 2021 in the Bono and Ashanti Regions by the Judicial Service of Ghana, with support from UNICEF and the Government of Denmark. On Thursday, Bono’s first ever child-friendly court was established in Dormaa Ahenkro. In Ashanti region, the Ashanti-Akropong Circuit Court launched a new child-friendly courtroom, the second of its kind in the region. His Lordship, Chief Justice Annin-Yeboah attended both inaugurations. On Friday 12 November, H.E. the Ambassador of Denmark to Ghana, Tom Nørring and the UNICEF Representative in Ghana, Anne-Claire Dufay, joined the event.
Ten new child friendly gender-based violence courts are being established across Ghana and are expected to significantly improve the quality and accuracy of evidence of survivors, by addressing the challenges they face in the trial process. They are set up with closed circuit cameras, child-friendly waiting areas, as well as a separate testifying room for children not to be in direct contact with their abusers. The facilities are equipped with technical equipment, a small library, and toys.
The courts will further enable child friendly procedures, including the sensitization for judges, registrars and court staff who handle children’s cases.
Speaking at the inauguration of the court in Dormaa Ahenkro on Thursday, 18-year-old Linda Fosuah from Dormaa Secondary School said: “The court is important because it will help to solve child and human rights abuses such as rape and child trafficking in our community. It will also help children to express their views when they are abused of their rights.”
Close to 15,000 cases of violence against children are reported to law enforcement institutions every year. According to the 2016 Domestic Violence in Ghana report, compiled by the Ghana Statistical Service and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, over 38 per cent of girls aged 15 -19 years reported having experienced at least one act of sexual violence.
His Lordship, Chief Justice Annin-Yeboah stated “As a society, how we treat our children and other vulnerable groups tell us a lot about us. The best interest of the child is always paramount. Let us remember that from this building, we will be serving the weak and vulnerable in the society who look up to us to right the terrible wrongs that may have been done to them.”
His Excellency the Ambassador of Denmark to Ghana Mr Tom Nørring added “As we are all aware, during the lockdown period of the COVID-19 pandemic, all forms of violence against women and girls intensified across the world, and Ghana was no exception. According to UN Women, 243 million women and girls aged 15-49 experienced sexual or physical violence by an intimate partner in the past year. A shocking number!”
UNICEF Representative in Ghana, Anne-Claire Dufay said:
“The ten new child-friendly courts are important steps to increasing access to justice for children and women and encourage them to report violations. It is also critical for perpetrators to be brought to trial and be sentenced. Sexual gender-based violence is a crime. It ruins the lives of children and women. Let’s all join efforts in ending these serious violations. Let’s protect children and enable then to realize their dreams.”
With support from the Government of Denmark and UNICEF, the ten new courts are designed to enable a more equitable justice system for children to testify against accused perpetrators. They are located in: Damongo, Nalerigu, Techiman, Gaoso, Dormaa Ahenkro, Bibiani, Kumasi, Ashanti Akropong and two in Accra
For further information, please contact:
Judicial Service (Judicial Reforms): Mrs. Grace Tagoe; Director, Judicial Reforms.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.