The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) has trained twenty three paralegals in Bolgatanga in the Upper East to assist state institutions such as the police, social welfare and Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice to work on cases of children who come into conflict with the law.
The Legal Resources Centre with support from European Union is implementing a justice for children programme dubbed: “Justice for children: bridging the gap between legislation and practice”.
The project aims to bridge the gap between legislation and practice within the broad outlook of Ghana’s justice for children system by ensuring that children in conflict and in contact with the law are adequately protected and their rights promoted through targeted interventions including policy and legislative reforms as well as enhanced service delivery.
In all, 150 paralegals across the country are being trained from selected districts. In the Upper East Region, individuals from Bolgatanga Municipality, Talensi, Kassena-Nankana West and Nabdam districts were carefully selected after interviews and have now been trained as paralegals to execute the project from now to March 2021.they will be guided by Lawyer Richard Adazabrah, Upper East Regional Director of Legal Aid.
Explaining how the paralegals were selected, Project Officer at Legal Resources Centre, Enock Jengre, said the centre placed an advert in the media calling for interested persons to apply. After they applied, they were interviewed and those who were successful were selected.
The paralegals were taken through the various mediation processes such as arbitration, mediation, negotiations, and compulsory arbitration to equip them with adequate knowledge on how to go about their work in resolving issues of children who come into contact and into conflict with the law.
According to Mr. Jengre, the LRC is collaborating with the Social Welfare Department, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and the Ghana Police Service at the national level and encouraged the paralegals to go into these institutions to identify cases related to children and subsequently link up with the LRC to assist and facilitate amicable resolution of these cases.
The project, he said, seeks to integrate all abandoned children back into their families as he stressed, “Every child in Ghana here belongs to a family, at least, and so, there shouldn’t be anything that will deprive the wellbeing of the child.”
Mr. Jengre regretted that although the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection has a well-drafted policy on children, its implementation has not been satisfactory hence the purpose of LRC’s intervention.
In an interview with the media, Mr. Adazabrah, applauded the efforts of the LRC in embarking on the project which he believes will provide a good platform for children who come into conflict or contact with the law to get competent defense especially when they get caught up in petty crimes like stealing, assault would not languish in adult cells in the process, may be abused by adult prisoners.
The paralegals were largely drawn from CHRAJ, Police Service, Social Welfare and other child rights organisations and advocates.