19.05.2005 General News

WAJU: We've provided effective administrative justice

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Accra, May 19, GNA - The Women and Juvenile Unit (WAJU) of the Police Service on Thursday said it had been credited with providing effective and reliable system of administrative justice for women and children who, for years suffered in silence because of the absence of a resource system to address their concerns.

WAJU was now a household name and this was in line with its mission of outreach and awareness programmes that fell under the preventive model in community policing initiatives.

Mrs Sophia Torpey, Commanding Officer, WAJU, made this observation in Accra when Social Studies students of the University of Minnesota, USA, paid a familiarization visit to WAJU.

The students were at WAJU to have first hand information on their operations and also learn how other countries addressed social issues of women and children.

She said through intensive education and letting victims know that they were not to be blamed, the stigma of rape had become a thing of the past. Individual rights to WAJU's services are also guaranteed. The unit, she said, was aimed at coordinating a multi-agency partnership with sponsors to improve on the general community safety as a further step towards minimizing human rights violations. Giving a breakdown of statistics on cases handled by the unit since its establishment in 1999 to April this year, the Commanding Officer said the unit recorded a total of 2,128 defilement cases, 5,334 assault cases, 506 rape cases, 249 cases of indecent assault and 312 abduction cases.

Others are 48 incest cases, 175 cases of exposing a child to harm and 11,701 cases of non-child maintenance. It had 191 convictions from 2003 to May nine this year.

On challenges facing the unit she noted that all 19 branches had inadequate office space in view of the ever-increasing client patronage. Mrs Torpey said in spite of the overwhelming incidence of child labour and exploitation, data on enforcement of the relevant law was nothing to write home about.

This, she said, was because there was no willing complainant, be it parents or persons benefiting from the services, to cooperate with the police.

Mrs Torpey said it was also very difficult for financially distressed victims to access the Victim Support Fund allocated to health facilities. As such victims did not return to the unit to continue investigation, she added.

The Commanding Officer noted that in some situations staff of the unit had to foot hospital bills themselves saying this was not an attraction for personnel from the general pool into the WAJU. The Students paid glowing tribute to government for establishing WAJU to handle cases of violence against women and juveniles. They also commended the unit for working hard with limited resources in the areas of education and counselling as step in minimizing violence of all kinds meted out to women and juveniles. 19 May 05

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