By Gifty Amofa/Eric Appah Marfo, GNA
Accra, Nov 10, GNA - The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) in partnership with the European Union (EU) has provided training for 20 Paralegals in Accra to build their capacity to protect the rights of children.
The training was to advocate legal and policy reforms and call for an increase in legal assistance to children in conflict with the law.
It sought to increase the capacity of security agencies, paralegals (law students, staff of human rights NGOs and others) and other stakeholders in promoting and protecting the rights of children.
The training was on the theme: “Justice for Children: Bridging the Gap between Legislation and Practice Project.”
Mr Robert Nomo Jnr, the Project Officer of LRC said based on some stakeholder consultations, it had come to bare that there were gaps in the child related laws.
Therefore, it was prudent to give legal representation to children who came into conflict with the law and that stakeholders who dealt with children were to receive capacity building.
He noted that the training had been carried out for 130 paralegals across the country including the Ghana Police Service, Prisons Service and the Judicial Service with the Immigration Service yet to undergo the training.
Mr Nomo said the paralegals had been equipped to report cases related to children so that legal practitioners could be assigned to these juveniles.
Lawyer Clarke Noyoru, a legal practitioner and facilitator for the training noted that although the legal system in all jurisdictions had its shortfalls, legal practitioners were not to lose hope but keep on calling for the right things to be done.
“Even in the midst of an imperfect system, there are always people whose voices can bring hope. We need all of you to push for the system to work, otherwise, it won’t,” he added.
He entreated the paralegals to analyse cases from the ordinary man’s point of view so as to gain a better understanding of the nature the case carried.
The Lawyer said children who fell into conflict with the law were to be corrected and not punished as was usually the case with adults.
He said though children should be made to admit guilt of an offense, their correction should be carried out in a child friendly manner, which would lead to reformation.
Mr Noyoru termed this form of child friendly correction as the “treatment system”, thus, the child’s character ended up being treated.
Lawyer Noyoru noted that most children had very little contact hours with parents, hence, they sought counsel from their peers, which normally led them into conflict with the law.
He explained that children were weak, vulnerable and could not stand up for themselves in the face of the legal system.
He urged participants to act as the mouthpiece of children and place their interest first when taking decisions.
Mr Noyoru said in the handling of child cases, paralegals should maintain confidentiality and not lay bare delicate information that the child had entrusted in their hands.
The facilitator noted that legal services or representation were expensive and that majority of parents could not afford it for their children.
As such, he advocated that legal services should be made available and affordable to citizens who could not afford it.
LRC is a Non-Governmental Organisation committed to the realization of human dignity by building human rights capacities.
It carries out its mandate by facilitating the establishment of human rights cities at home and abroad, conducting research, advocacy and advisory services including legal aid for individuals, organizations and communities.