Mr Justice Dennis Adjei, an Appeals Court judge has appealed to Police officers to help protect the rights of children, especially those that are brought to them as offenders of the Law.
According to him, it was the duty of the Police to protect children against abuses and serve as their mouthpiece.
Justice Adjei made the appeal on Thursday during a day’s training workshop for personnel of the Police Service on the role of security agencies in protecting the rights of children.
Organised by the Legal Resource Centre (LRC) with funding from the European Union (EU), the workshop was attended by 45 Police investigators and prosecutors from selected districts of the Central Region.
It was held on the theme: “Justice for Children: Bridging the Gap between Legislation and Practice” and aimed at sensitising the Police officers on their role in protecting the rights and interests of children.
Justice Adjei indicated that the nature of the work of Police Personnel was such that many children were likely to run to them for help, stressing that they should not for any reason turn them away.
He advised the Police not to detain children together with suspected adult criminals to prevent them from becoming hardened criminals.
He said during investigations the police should ensure that the legal process were fair to the children in order not to punish them unduly.
“The Police must interview the offender in a child-friendly manner in all part of their investigation and should not cause them stress,” he added.
Justice Adjei urged Police prosecutors to explain charges to children in the language they understood and secure legal assistance for them when necessary.
This, he noted, though enshrined in the Constitution, was different in practice and called on the officers to respect that provision of the Constitution.
“This is where the importance of legal aid come into play as children naturally cannot afford a lawyer and they can be punished unnecessarily, particularly regarding truancy,” he said.
He explained that Children should be sent to juvenile courts for trial and detained at a juvenile correctional centre.
Mr Enock Jengre, the Project Officer for LRC, said the Centre existed to ensure the realisation of human dignity by building human rights capacities of institutions.
He said the centre would continue to work with appropriate institutions to secure effective justice delivery for children who come in conflict with the law to safeguard their rights and dignity.
Chief Inspector John Jeboe, a participant, called on the government to provide the necessary facilities that would not make juveniles suffer unduly, while assuring that they would do their best with the limited resources.
Participants were taken through topics such as the Ghanaian Legal System, Providing Legal Aid Services, Responsibilities of Agencies and Implementations and Practical Considerations.