Police officers have been advised to go ahead and prosecute child abuse cases even when the victims or their parents do not show interest in pursuing the cases.
The Executive Director of the Ark Foundation, Mrs Angela Dwamena-Aboagye, who gave the advice, explained that in some reported child abuse cases, the victims or their parents tried to frustrate police efforts by saying that they were no longer interested in the matter either because they did not have the time or the money to go through with the cases.
However, she said, in such situations, police officers should use the provisions in the Children’s Act and other legislations to warn the parents that they could be prosecuted for frustrating police efforts if they tried to drop the case.
“In cases of defilement and other child abuse cases, the best thing police officers can do when they know the case can be prosecuted is to ensure that they make the parents understand that they will be committing a crime of putting the lives of their children in further danger of abuse if they drop the case,” she advised.
Mrs Dwamena-Aboagye gave the advice in an interview in Accra after she had addressed Crime Officers of the Ghana Police Service at a Seminar on Domestic and Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence Regulations and Challenges.
She also warned police officers who encouraged perpetrators and victims of child abuse to settle the cases out of court or the police system to desist from the practice.
“It is not a good practice. In fact, any police officer who does that is colluding in a criminal offence.
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That in itself is engaging in a criminal action, especially when the case reported is an aggravated issue like defilement or certain kinds of physical assault on children,” she pointed out.
Mrs Dwamena-Aboagye said dropping child abuse cases from the courts or the police system has long-term effects on the child who is the victim, pointing out that it denied the victim the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of the justice system, especially since parents were unable to take good care of the victim’s psychological and medical care needs.