CHILD RIGHTS International, a non-governmental organisation, has taken the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to the Supreme Court, seeking the apex court to declare that the Government of Ghana is in breach of Articles 15(1), (2), 13(1) and 35(4) of the 1992 Constitution, for not taking urgent steps to ensure that children receive special protection against exposure to physical and moral hazards as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.
According to Bright Appiah, Executive Director of Child Rights International, the writ was filed to address security threats child streetism is posing to the nation, give meaning to children’s right to education and also ensure that children in Ghana are given proper care like others in advanced democracies.
Streetism is used to describe children who live and work on the streets due to a lack of family ties or worse still, stuck in manipulative relationships, where their guardians (or in certain cases parents) use them to support the household financially, through various activities on the streets.
The writ was filed on March 3, 2022, the court registry has ascertained.
According to Mr. Appiah, he initiated the action in his capacity as a registered organisation interested in upholding the respect for and compliance with the 1992 Constitution, and the rule of law, and ensuring that the rules in question do not infringe the letter and spirit of the 1992 Constitution.
In his writ to invoke the original jurisdiction of the highest court of the land, the applicant further prayed the court to state whether on a true and proper interpretation of clauses (1) (c)and (d) clauses (2), (3) and (4) of Article 28 of the Constitution, and clauses (1) and (2) of Article 15, clause (1) of Article 13 and clause (4) of Article 35 of the Constitution, the current conditions of children living on the streets in Ghana are consistent with the said provisions.
The applicant, whose work seeks to protect and safeguard the social, educational and constitutional rights of children, is asking the court for a number of reliefs and declaration.
Among these are the declaration that the Government of Ghana is in breach of Articles 25(a), 28 (1) (a), (d), (2) (3) (4), 13(1) and 37 of the 1992 Constitution for not taking urgent steps to ensure that children do not engage in work that constitute a threat to their health, education or development, and that children are not deprived of medical treatment, education or any social or economic benefit.
Mr. Appiah, therefore, urged the court to make an order directed at the Government of Ghana to establish Child Protection Units in metropolises, municipalities and districts where child exploitation is high.
He also wants an order directed at government to define by law penalties for family members, local government units and schools that do not guarantee the observance of children in street situation rights.
Again, he is seeking an order directed at government to define by law penalties for child exploitation for begging or other forms of economic exploitation to punish all those who may try to benefit or gain money from children’s work; an order directed at government to improve the law on healthcare, by defining by law the provision of free primary health services to all poor children, children living in street situation or children in emergency situations.
Additionally, he is seeking an order directed at government to provide rules and procedures to be followed for the provision of free basic medical services to poor children, children in street situation or children in emergency situations, and the agencies that can ask for this help on behalf of children; an order to implement mechanisms to control and enforce the legal framework guaranteeing education for all children; an order defining by law the facilitation procedures related to school enrolment of children in street situations and their provision with the necessary didactic material; and also, an order for government to submit to the court, not later than three months from the date of final judgment, a plan of action detailing all the steps, strategies, and measurable targets by which the defendants undertake to obey and perform the orders contained in the reliefs the applicant is seeking.
Moreover, he is seeking an order directed at government to submit to the court, two years from the date of final judgment and thereafter every six months until the expiry of the three-year plan of action, a report particularising all the steps taken, and targets met in obeying the orders of the court.