Photo Credit: Judicial Service website

Ten new child-friendly gender-based violence courts are being established across Ghana.

These courts are expected to significantly improve the quality and accuracy of evidence of survivors, by addressing the challenges they face in the trial process. 

The new courts are set up with closed circuit cameras, child-friendly waiting areas, as well as a separate testifying rooms for children not to be in direct contact with their abusers. The facilities are equipped with technical equipment, a small library and toys.

The courts will further enable child-friendly procedures, including the sensitization for judges, registrars and court staff who handle children’s cases.

The courts are being established with support from the Government of Denmark and UNICEF.

They are located in; Damongo, Nalerigu, Techiman, Gaoso, Dormaa Ahenkro, Bibiani, Kumasi, Ashanti Akropong and two in Accra.

Already, two of such courts have been inaugurated on November 11 and November 12, 2021 in the Bono and Ashanti Regions respectively, by the Judicial Service of Ghana.

Speaking at the inauguration of the court in Dormaa Ahenkro on Thursday, His Lordship, Chief Justice Annin-Yeboah said, “as a society, how we treat our children and other vulnerable groups tell us a lot about us. The best interest of the child is always paramount. Let us remember that from this building, we will be serving the weak and vulnerable in the society who look up to us to right the terrible wrongs that may have been done to them.”

Eighteen-year-old Linda Fosuah from Dormaa Secondary School said, “the court is important because it will help to solve children and human rights abuses such as rape and child trafficking in our community.  It will also help children to express their views when they are abused.”

Close to 15,000 cases of violence against children are reported to law enforcement institutions every year. According to the 2016 Domestic Violence in Ghana report, compiled by the Ghana Statistical Service and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, over 38 per cent of girls aged 15 -19 years reported having experienced at least one act of sexual violence.

His Excellency the Ambassador of Denmark to Ghana, Mr. Tom Nørring added, “as we are all aware, during the lockdown period of the COVID-19 pandemic, all forms of violence against women and girls intensified across the world, and Ghana was no exception. According to UN Women, 243 million women and girls aged 15-49 experienced sexual or physical violence by an intimate partner in the past year. A shocking number!”

UNICEF Representative in Ghana, Anne-Claire Dufay underscored the need for the newly established courts.

“The ten new child-friendly courts are important steps to increasing access to justice for children and women and encourage them to report violations. It is also critical for perpetrators to be brought to trial and be sentenced. Sexual gender-based violence is a crime. It ruins the lives of children and women. Let’s all join efforts in ending these serious violations. Let’s protect children and enable them to realize their dreams,” she noted.

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