A Legal practitioner, Clarke Noyoru has called on Paralegals in the country to strife at the promotion of the interest of children always in the course of their duty.
According to him, the high cost of legal services makes the work of paralegals very critical in delivering justice to children who come in conflict with the law hence the need to make their services readily available and affordable to children.
He stated that the high cost of legal services in the country is one of the reasons children who found themselves in conflict with the law end up in adult prisons instead of juvenile facilities for rehabilitation.
“We cannot run a system where we want to protect the rights of children when services are expensive,” he stated.
Mr Noyoru made the call during a day’s training programme organised by the Legal Resources Centre to enhance the capacity of paralegals and related stakeholders to protect the rights of children on the theme “Justice for Children: Bridging The Gap Between Legislation and Practice”.
According to Mr Noyoru, the weak child protection system in Ghana was also to blame for the abuse meted out to children who found themselves in conflict with the law coupled with high legal fees which some parents cannot also not afford.
“There are scale of fees that we are allowed to charge but you cannot charge below. So, the point is that legal services are so expensive and if you want to run pro bono services for children who cannot afford, then we cannot rely on the kind of services that ordinary lawyers are providing. So, one of the guiding principles in the work that you are doing is that legal services should be available and accessible to persons who cannot afford,” he stated.
He has therefore challenged the paralegal trainees to collaborate through information sharing, whiles taking advantage of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism in dealing with matters relating to children.
Mr Noyoru blamed the failed legal system that protects the right of children as contributing factor to child delinquency in society and challenged paralegals to be good ‘betweeners’ for children.
The legal Practitioner abhorred the lack of adequate systems for the correction of children who come in conflict with the law ending up in adult prisons with much negative consequences after being release.
“Ghana’s prisons do not correct. They punish and as a result, minor offenders come out as hardened criminals and that is why we must correct the child in a child friendly manner,” he said.
He also encouraged the trainees to constantly collaborate with security agencies especially on cross-border issues in order function effectively.
According to him, it is important for paralegals to always bear in mind the interest of children at all times whiles serving as their “next friends”.
An Official of the Legal Resource Centre, Robert Nomo Jnr said the centre is committed towards the provision of legal services for all especially children.
The training he said is aimed at equipping paralegals with the requisite knowledge he and tools to help protect and promote the rights of children.
Topics treated during the one –day training programme includes, the Ghanaian Legal System and Legal Aid/Services, Responsibilities of Agencies/Rights of Children, Implementation and practical considerations and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Mechanisms.
The rest are; Additional forms of arbitration and mediation, Justice for case reporting system among others.