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Report on the Child and Youth Advocacy Forum – 20th April 2016

IMANI Africa research assistant, Ruby Sinam Nutor participated in a forum organised by The Child Research and Resource Centre (Crrecent). The forum which took place on the 20th April, 2016 in Accra, Ghana was held on the theme: “Child and Youth Development and Protection: The Situation of Juvenile Crime in Ghana.” The forum was moderated by Professor Ellen Bortei-Doku Aryeetey. Find below, a comprehensive report of the forum.

Reported by Ruby Sinam Nutor | IMANI Africa



According to the Ghana Prisons Service, the age distribution of convict prisoners in Ghana admitted in 2014 showed that 70.37% of them fall in the age range of 18 – 35; implying that 73.37 of persons admitted into prisons in Ghana in 2014 are youth.

Regardless of efforts made by policy makers, politicians, opinion leaders and development partners, less attention has been given to juvenile delinquency in Ghana. Juvenile justice administration has seen little changes, in policy and in the practical realization of the human rights of the young offender. The absence of a comprehensive juvenile justice policy accounts for the lack of coordination among the various departments and leaders administering juvenile justice in Ghana.

Some challenges to note:

  • Crime preventions programs are nonexistent or inadequate
  • There are no comprehensive aftercare programs to assist juvenile delinquents as they navigate into adulthood, hence most of them end up in adult prisons.
  • Absence or inadequate well trained social workers results in most ex-inmates of the correctional facility going back to commit crimes.


The executive director of  the Child Research and Resource Centre (CRRECENT), Madam Susan Sabaa in her opening remarks proposed the formation of a Civil society platform to deliberate over the following:

  • To draw attention to the gravity of issues affecting boys and girls and the youth in the development agenda of Ghana.
  • To deliberate and build consensus towards influencing and implementing national policies that relate to children and youth development and protection.
  • And to expand the knowledge base of stakeholders and the general public in thematic issues, in order to mobilize support for effective advocacy

COP Prosper Kwame Agblor, Director General of Police CID Headquarters made a presentation on the topic: “Juvenile Crime in Ghana – The Investigative Perspective”. Highlights from his presentation are as below:

The first quarter of 2016 has recorded 24 arrests of juveniles (offenders under 18) with offences including stealing, use of narcotic drugs, defilement, assault, and attempted suicide.

  • Police have identified irresponsible parenting to be the major cause of the growing figures
  • In Ghana, the police continue to protect the rights to privacy of a young offender
  • However, the non-disclosure or non-publication of arrests leads to the underestimation of the increasing rates in child crimes,
  • Juveniles arrested are supposed to be detained separately from adults, and arraigned in juvenile court
  • A major challenge faced by the police in this respect is the lack of juvenile cells at most police stations, so it leads to these young offender being kept behind the counter or in the homes of station officers.
  • Another challenge is the difficulty in obtaining the right ages of the young offenders.
  • There is the need for juvenile cells in all station, and a well-resourced correctional home to help in reforming the young offenders.

Professor Kodjo Sena from the Sociology Department of the University of Ghana, in his intervention as a discussant at the forum made the following observations:

  • There is no data to inform policy making concerning children and youth
  • There is lack of information regarding the rights of the young offender, practices and procedures of arraigning offenders before juvenile courts.
  • The child justice is made to look very complicated, so most child offenders are advised to inflate their ages to avoid the process or being sent a correctional facility for three years and rather end up in adult prisons for a much shorter term.
  • Government subventions are always delayed so institutions are not functioning as they should.
  • The correctional facilities lack efficient social welfare experts: personnel at the prisons or correctional facilities are not able to handle young prisoners professionally
  • The institution also lacks mentors for these young offenders.

Dr. Prince Boamah, Vice Principal of School of Social Work at the Department of Social Welfare, who intervened as a second discussant at the forum made the following submissions. He talked about the factors that lead to juvenile crime.  

  1. Lack of parental guidance and supervision are the main causes of early onset of criminal behavior
  2. Lack of child’s disposition to direction
  3. Some children are influenced from extended family members
  4. School dropout is likely to lead juvenile crime
  5. Poverty in the family

Speaking on the topic “Managing Child Offenders” as a third discussant, Mr. Marcus Chris Lawson, an Offender Management Consultant made the following submissions:

Managing child offenders can be categorized into four (4) “Rs”:

Rehabilitation, Reformation, Reintegration, Resettlement

  • There is the need for amendment of the juvenile justice act.
  • Based on the changes in crime, the system of managing young offenders should change
  • Family, the environment, finances, institutions are among the factors that influence the behavior of young offenders and their tendency to go back to commit crime.

Open suggestions

Participants at the forum also had the opportunity to contribute to the various topics. A summary of their suggestions are as follows:

  1. We should try to understand the changing phases of crime over the years. Which structures do we need have to handle crimes committed in recent times, which are completely different from the crimes committed by children years back?
  2. We need to discuss the percentage of the ministry’s budget that goes into child protection
  3. Tackling the issue of data should start from ensuring every child is registered at birth.
  4. Social welfare support is very critical to the reformation of the young offenders. There is the need for the adequate resourcing of the Department of social welfare.
  5. Conscious efforts should be made by the State in reintegrating ex-inmates of correctional facilities into society smoothly in order to prevent relapse. In this regard, efforts of the organizers – CRRESENT should be supported by the members of the proposed civil society platform, other stakeholders and the State as a whole.

Ruby Sinam Nutor is a research assistant with IMANI Center for Policy and Education (IMANI Africa). She is a member of the Social Policy Center at IMANI Africa.


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