The Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) has learnt with shock and horror the reported news of the alleged defilement of a four-year-old girl by a member of the Adadientem community near Assin Fosu in the Central Region of Ghana. The Center is equally appalled that the suspect in this heinous crime is still walking free with no serious action taken by official state agencies against the suspect several days after the reported defilement.
The Center notes that Ghana has well established laws that protect the rights of children, including the Children’s Act of 1998 (Act 560), which provides for the rights of the child and ensures total protection of the child from harm and abuses. Ghana also has the Criminal Offences Act of 1960 (Act 29), section 101 of which states that “Whoever naturally or unnaturally carnally knows any child under sixteen years of age, whether with or without his or her consent commits an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than seven years and not more than twenty-five years”. In addition, in November 2014, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP) came out with a “Government of Ghana Child and Family Welfare Policy which seeks to strengthen protection for Ghanaian children. Indeed, Ghana was the first country in the world to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on February 5, 1990, and has signed on most major international instruments relating to child protection including the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
Against this background, CDD-Ghana can neither understand why a Ghanaian child should be subjected to such egregious abuse in this day and age, nor the inaction of the authorities charged with the protection of children. CDD-Ghana finds the reported excuse given by the Police in Assin Fosu for not taking the needful steps to arrest the suspect, and the general lackadaisical attitude of the Police Service, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, and the Department of Social Welfare in the Assin North Municipality to this case of gross child abuse an affront to the country’s criminal justice system. The Center is also disturbed by news reports that the chief of the community is claiming that the suspect has been declared innocent by the gods; hence nothing can be done to him.
The Center calls on the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and the Ghana Police Service to expedite whatever actions and processes are underway to bring the suspect to book to face justice. The Center also calls on the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, as a matter of urgency, to reach out to the family of the victim to provide the necessary support under the difficult circumstances in which they find themselves – in accordance with the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act.
Further, CDD-Ghana urges the district offices of the Department of Social Development and the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) to embark on intensive education of the opinion leaders, traditional authorities in the Adadientem community on issues of child protection and sexual abuses and the laws of Ghana. Such efforts should also be extended to other parts of the country.
CDD-Ghana commends the media, particularly Joy FM, for bringing this horrible act against an innocent child to the attention of the public, and calls on all well-meaning Ghanaians to condemn such deeds and support the work of the Police Service by providing them with any relevant information on the incident.