12.10.2004 Crime & Punishment

Government asked to construct juvenile cells

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Accra, Oct.12, GNA - Mrs Sophia Amofah Torpey, Commanding Officer of the Women and Juvenile Unit (WAJU), on Tuesday appealed to the Government to provide funds for the construction of juvenile cells in all Police stations.

She said the rights of juveniles at Police stations had been clearly spelt out in the Act but unfortunately inadequate structures had not helped in keeping the provision.

"For instance, she said WAJU did not have the facility and, therefore, fell the on Social Welfare Boys Remand Home and the Girls Industrial School at Osu whenever there was the need. The question is what about the other Police stations outside the capital?"

Mrs Torpey made the appeal at the second inter-agency capacity building workshop in Accra organised by the National Commission on Children (GNCC) to discuss the principles of childcare, custody, protection and development as provided in the Children's Act.

She also called on the GNCC to act promptly to remedy the situation where 16 years old girls were raped and were treated as adults.

Mrs Torpey said a day did not pass without a juvenile being sent to Police stations in connection with defilement, stealing and other serious crimes.

She said Section 23 of the Justice Act talked about remand of the juvenile, sub-section (4) stated the maximum period of a remand warrant to be seven days but the Police encountered a lot of problems, adding, some of the reasons were non-availability of juvenile courts, Judges, long adjournments and difficulty in locating parents.

She, therefore, called for the sensitisation of Judges and Lawyers dealing with juveniles to avoid long adjournments.

Mrs Chris Dadzie, an officer from the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, said the level of knowledge on children's rights was low and called for the improvement of the legal aid system. She said institutions committed to children's issues needed to be strengthened and appealed to the Government to allocate funds to help educate and create awareness on the rights of children.

Mrs Dadzie said because of the unavailability of juvenile cells, children, who were remanded together with adults, ended up being trained by the adults to become hardened criminals instead being reformed.

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