The Chief Justice, Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, has admonished traditional rulers and community leaders to desist from settling child abuse cases.
According to him, child abuse in various forms is criminal, hence the court needs to adjudicate amicably in order to serve as a deterrent to other community members to prevent its recurrence.
“Relegating such cases to tradition, where the adjudicator is the head of family or chief, is strongly discouraged, ” he cautioned.
He gave the advice at the inauguration of two Child-Friendly Gender-Based Violence Court (CF-GBVC) at Goaso in the Ahafo Region and Bibiani in the Western North Region.
The courts, which were sponsored by UNICEF with support from the Denmark Government, are equipped with modern technology like Direct Transcription System (DTS) which records court proceedings and reproduces right after a court session and CCTV cameras.
Also, there is a waiting room furnished with toys and children’s books to make the child comfortable and a testimony room for children, that serves as a blockage between a child and their abusers.
Justice Anin Yeboah said the cases on gender-based violence have been on low trajectory, however, the figures are disturbingly high, hence the need for such an adopted model of court to ensure there is accuracy of evidence and delivery of fair judgment.
He said the interest of a child needs to be important in the national development process, and he commended UNICEF and its partners for supporting the Judiciary to justice to gender-based violence, especially children.
He further charged the staff of the court to conduct routine maintenance on the new facilities so that its equipment would last to continue to deliver justice to the citizenry.
Ms. Hilda Mensah, the Child Protective Specialist at UNICEF, explained they supported the construction of the courts “to significantly improve the quality and accuracy of evidence of survivors, by addressing the challenges they face in the trial process”.
She also advised parents and the community to inculcate in their wards how to prevent sexual violence.
“Collectively as an institution of families and communities, we need to build the life skills and capacity of children and adolescents to enhance their resilience to sexual harm,”
Nana Akwasi Bosomprah, the Omanhene of Goaso Traditional Council, charged the court to discharge their duties professionally without recourse to the person’s background and to caution the people of Goaso to desist from any form of violence against children.