Bright Appiah — Executive Director  of Child Rights International
Bright Appiah — Executive Director of Child Rights International
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Registering minors to vote dangerous — Child Rights

Political parties and other stakeholders have been urged to refrain from involving children in electoral activities because it is both unlawful and harmful to the children.

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The Executive Director of Child Rights International (CRI), Bright Appiah, said the minimum age of 18, set by the Constitution as the minimum age requirement to get involved in domestic politics was to ensure the state effectively protected minors and prevented their exploitation for personal gain.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, he said engaging children in electoral activities and registering them as voters went against their best interests, particularly in accessing socioeconomic services and navigating the criminal justice system.

He said in such cases, the children would no longer be entitled to or enjoy certain privileges and protections under the law. “Such actions deprive children of their legal protections and benefits, including appropriate education and healthcare opportunities, which could expose them to potential child marriage and cause their removal from the juvenile justice system.

In the case of the justice system, such children would be treated as adults, which is also inappropriate for their age and development,” Mr Appiah said. He further stressed that introducing children into the electoral process without giving them proper understanding and preparation undermined the integrity of the nation’s democratic system.

Mr Appiah said the practice prevented such children from making informed voting decisions, and failed to instil in them democratic principles and participation in a responsible manner. It rather exposed them to fraudulent activities which could compromise the credibility of the entire electoral process.

“In addition, registering children as voters can also lead to potential manipulation and coercion by adults seeking to influence election outcomes. It is critical to maintain the legal age requirements for voting in order to safeguard the well-being and rights of children in society,” he stressed.

He, therefore, urged all political parties to refrain from involving children in electoral activities in the name of fair and ethical democratic practices. Mr Appiah encouraged all stakeholders to prioritise the education and empowerment of children in civic engagement through age-appropriate means to ensure a strong foundation for future participation in the electoral process.

He called on the Electoral Commission to thoroughly vet the voters' register and cause the prosecution of individuals engaged in the illegal practice to uphold the rule of law and to protect the integrity of the country’s electoral system.

He said by taking such actions, the nation could safeguard the rights and well-being of children while upholding the democratic values that formed the cornerstone of society.

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