Defence for Children International Ghana, a worldwide movement for children's rights, in a bid to ensure that all stakeholders including the government, Judiciary and the media play their various roles to ensure that the country satisfies all international requirements on Children's rights in juvenile justice has organised a press conference for media practitioners to sensitise them on "General Comment No. 10".
The "General Comment No. 10" highlights shortcomings in the development of the juvenile justice policies by state parties and provides guidelines to state in developing comprehensive juvenile policies that comply with the Convention on the Right of the Child and relevant international standards.
However, taking into consideration that Ghana was the first African State to assent the UN Convention on the Right of the Child, the Defence for Children International, Ghana is making sure that the media is sensitised on the importance of the GC10 to constantly put the government on its toes in delivering the best practices in the administration of juvenile justice.
The DCI-Ghana, as part of its follow up to the GC10 programmes will stage a round table discussions among stakeholders in the civil society to create a network for advocacy on the GC10 on children's rights in juvenile justice in Ghana and also organise series of seminars for children and government officials throughout the country.
Addressing the press conference, the Executive Secretary of DCI-Ghana, George Opong Ampong observed the urgent need to assess and train professionals working on juvenile justice to improve upon their understanding of the GC10 and juvenile justice administration in Ghana, whereas government adopt and integrate the 1990 UN guidelines for the prevention of juvenile delinquency into the national policies.
"High quality training should be provided to all parties in the justice system, example the police officers, prosecutors, legal representatives of the child, judges, probation officers, social workers and others"
The Executive Secretary said the GC10 has become necessary since in spite of the improvements in juvenile justice system in Ghana, there are still some gaps that must be filled and that getting full understanding of the GC10 will help bridge them.
He said government must be encouraged to implement a comprehensive policy on juvenile justice with emphasis on the prevention of juvenile delinquency, adding that this could be achieved if programmes are put in place to support vulnerable families and involve schools in teaching basic rights as well as values, while extending special attention to children who do not complete their education.
According to Dr Opong Ampong, the arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child must be in conformity with the law, urging state parties to ensure that children are not held in pre-trial detention for months or even years.
He also charged the state to as a matter of urgency equip all agencies responsible for the administration of juvenile justice in the country as a way of enhancing the nation's juvenile trial systems.
He urged the media to focus more on human rights issues, update themselves with juvenile justice procedures in order to adequately report on such cases.