Susan Sabaa,  Executive Director of Child Research and Resource Centre and Kobina Yeboah Okyere,  National Director of CIGH
Susan Sabaa, Executive Director of Child Research and Resource Centre and Kobina Yeboah Okyere, National Director of CIGH

Juvenile Justice law needs reform – Child rights advocate

The Executive Director of Child Research and Resource Centre, Susan Sabaa has punched holes in the Juvenile Justice Act 2003 (Act 653) and called for reforms to ultimately protect the rights of juvenile offenders and aid their reintegration into society.


According to her, there were still gaps in the law which needed to be addressed to realise the full welfare and protection of ex-offenders in the country.

She made the remarks during the third edition of the “Thriving Child Seminar Series”, an event organized by the Compassion International Ghana (CIGH), an NGO, to build the capacity of their staff as well as other child care givers across the country.


Speaking on the theme: “The Juvenile Justice System in Ghana-Current Realities and Needed Reforms”, she shared insights into the various sections – Rights of Juvenile, Arrest and Caution (Part I), Juvenile Court (Part II), Junior Correctional Centres and Senior Correctional Centres (Part III) where she outlined various gaps which she said needed reform for a better rehabilitation.

“The law is not bad but there are still gaps that must be addressed if we really want to realise the full welfare and protection of children in this country. We need for example, to expand the rights section and not just leave it at arrest but don’t touch the child.” 

“There are a whole lot of child’s right issues that come to play when any of the justice systems institutions are dealing with children and we have to emphasize on their rights so that whoever is working with them will be conscious of what they are entitled to and be given what they deserve,” she said. 

Psychosocial support

She also called for psychosocial support for juvenile offenders to aid their reintegration back into society saying it was an essential part of restorative justice efforts aimed at reducing recidivism and increasing public safety and social cohesion.

She was also worried that correctional centres did not offer formal transitional programmes and support adding those were major threats to the successful reintegration of released ex-offenders into society. 

“The Juvenile Justice Act aims to balance rehabilitation with accountability. These children still need psychosocial support although they are offenders. Even the fact that they are labelled offenders scares them and most of them don’t even have their parents around. They have migrated into the city and they are just hustling but let’s not forget that they are still children and they are sometimes not aware of the consequences of their actions."


She hinted that there was an ongoing review of the law which was pending cabinet approval and expressed optimism that when the review was done, the justice arena would deliver justice to children while upholding their rights and promoting their welfare.

“The Juvenile Justice Act does not seem to match the robust nature of the Family Welfare Policy so we called for a review. There is a rigorous review that is going on and it is almost at the tail end of it. It is left with cabinet giving their consent then it will be passed into law for us and when that happens, I am sure that a lot can be achieved,” she assured. 


For his part, the National Director of CIGH, Kobina Yeboah Okyere said his outfit deemed it right to work with other organisations to understand the issues and render the necessary support to their children.

“The criminal system ends up hardening some of these children rather than transforming them and we believe that as an organization with deeper interest in children, we need to understand the issues, the gaps in that space and to work collaboratively with likeminded organisations to see how best we can support in the reform process,” he said.

“The most important part is to prevent the children from going into fowl with the law and that is why Compassion International Ghana, as an organization, believe that addressing the issues right from the time that the child is young is important,” he added. 

He expressed appreciation to the “Thriving Child Seminar Series” committee for always putting together informative event to equip their staff and to bring reforms in their work.

Compassion International

The Compassion International Ghana is a Christian charity organisation dedicated to releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. 

Through sponsorships and donations, they empower local churches to provide individualized and holistic care to children in poverty so they are free to learn, grow, play and dream.

This is the third edition of the Thriving Child Seminar Series put together by the CIGH. The previous two events were on the theme “Policy Framework on Children: The Law and Practice” and “Child Development Milestones and Holism” respectively. The central focus of this initiative is the advancement of learning and expertise across key domain areas.

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