Selasa, 10 Juli 2012



PLAN Ghana, a child rights protection organisation, and the European Union (EU) together with stakeholders working to achieve juvenile justice, have visited correctional centres in Accra and Swedru to interact with inmates and to commemorate the World Day Against Child Labour, which fell on June 12.

The visit was also meant to encourage and reassure the inmates of the need to realise their full potential in life after they have served their term in the remand homes to enable them contribute their quota to the society.

The World Day against Child Labour provides the global community the opportunity to focus on the rights of children and to protect children from child labour, as well as other acts leading to the violation of their fundamental human rights.

The theme for this year’s event is: “Human Rights and Social Justice, let’s end child labour.”

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines child labour as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potentials and their dignity. That is harmful to their physical and mental development. Such work usually deprives children of the opportunity to attend school.

In 2010, the ILO and its global partners adopted a roadmap for achieving the elimination of the worst forms of child labour by 2016 which stressed that child labour is an impediment to children’s rights and a barrier to development. This was to build a new momentum in order to attain the goal of eliminating child labour.

The following year, Ghana, a member of the ILO, also launched the National Plan of Action (NPA) with similar commitments, and followed it up with the ratification of ILO Convention 138, which sets out the minimum age for admission to employment

The Country Director of Plan Ghana, Mr Prem Shukla, at the ceremony, noted that the organisation’s strategic plan for the next five years was in line with its commitment to child protection.

He said the Juvenile Justice Project being implemented by Plan Ghana with funding from the European Union (EU), in partnership with civil society organisations, seeks to enhance the protection of children in conflict with the law and protect them from all forms of violence. It is also to strengthen the capacity of children to advocate and carry out campaigns to protect the rights of juvenile offenders going through the juvenile justice process.

Mr Shukla said the objectives of the Juvenile Justice Project  was to give institutional support to juvenile justice institutions in the country and build the capacity of stakeholders working in juvenile justice institutions to meet international standards.

He said the issues of juvenile justice in the country could not be solved overnight. He added that “it involves enhancing institutional capacity, improving  upon infrastructure as well as adopting modern methods to reform the inmates, so that they reintegrate quickly into the society.”

In a speech read on her behalf, the Minister of Women and Children Affairs, Mrs Juliana Azumah-Mensah, said the administration of juvenile justice in the country was beset with a number of challenges, and pointed out that the legal provisions on children’s rights were not fully implemented while there was also shortage of programmes and institutional measures that were designed to prevent family breakdowns and juvenile delinquency.

Also, budgetary and resource allocations were insufficient and that did not allow for an efficient function of the system, adding that institutions were also understaffed and under resourced and relied considerably on private and international aid.

Mrs Azumah-Mensah, however, said the government was collaborating with its stakeholders to develop a comprehensive national child protection system that will holistically address child exploitation and abuse.

The head of the EU delegation, Mr Claude Martin, said it was sad to know that children had to suffer in order to have their rights upheld.

He called for a collaborative effort of stakeholder’s and ambassadors of child’s rights to step up efforts in fighting child labour.

Mr Martin reaffirmed the commitment of the EU to support institutions to fight against child labour and lauded Plan Ghana’s initiative to support juveniles in the country.

The Deputy Director of Department of Social Welfare (DSS), Mr Stephen Cofie, in his remarks, also lauded the contribution of Plan Ghana in promoting child rights and juvenile justice in the country.

He, however, called on other stakeholders to help the DSS to put up more structures that would serve as a shelter for children who have come in conflict with the law.

The Acting Centre Manager  in charge of the Girls Correctional Centre, the Boys Remand Home and the Shelter for Abuse Children, Mrs Georgina Mensah, called for more support from the government and other institutions in order to keep the centre running.

She also called for the swift release of the feeding grants from the government to help provide food for the inmates in the home.

“From January till date, we have not received any money from the government and this is becoming a burden on us because we no longer know how to feed the inmates,” she explained.

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