Lack of funding for the Social Welfare System affects child victims in criminal trials, a private legal practitioner has said.
Dennis Adjei Dwumor said it is unfortunate the system rather focuses on punishing the offender and moving on.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, Tuesday, he explained that this is because there is no structured social support available for children who are victims of any form of abuse.
The legal practitioner highlighted that there is a difference between how a child who is the accused person is treated compared to a child who is the victim of an offence.
“When a child is the accused person, that is, a juvenile, there is a juvenile justice path that governs the entire procedure of how to go about it. But when the child is a victim, many a times it often depends on the skill of the judge who will seek to give a certain protection.”
“So, where the child happens to be the accused the law is specific that the trial of that child who is the juvenile must take place and finish within six months. But when the child happens to be the victim, there is no mandatory requirement of the duration that the trial must take.”
“That’s how come it’s not surprising that that case is made part of the usual criminal offences cases and will take a longer time to deal with it,” going through all ordinary court procedures.
Mr Adjei argued that if the child’s interest is put first, then child abuse victims can have their deserved justice and psychological freedom back.
“It should be about the interest of the victim [considering] the psychological rejection. In other jurisdictions, even before conviction is done, there are times where the judge will request for a victim report for us to know the impact of what has been done to the child before the judge even passes the sentence.
“In terms of our regime we are have not got there yet. The law is there but the focus of the law is more of punishing the offender and less on the victim and how we can restore the victim to previous character when the incident had happened.”
“In other serious jurisdictions they have child victims acts which seeks to take care of situations where the children are involved. The reality on the ground is that there is lack of social support for these children who happen to be victims of offences.”
“There’s a lack of legal regime to take care of situations where the child is a victim. So when you look at the law, the law technically treats the child like a normal victim of a crime.”
“When the focus is on the victim, it matters more whether the accused person is acquitted or convicted,” he stressed.