YBF’s “Youth Awareness Improves Justice Project”
Ghana has enshrined issues of child welfare and development into legal documents and policies of which the Children’s Act 560 and the Juvenile Justice Act 653 are paramount.
These pieces of legislation together with the 1992 Constitution of Ghana give a clear framework for ensuring the respect of the rights of children and the handling of children who come into conflict with the law.
A Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative report of 201 highlighted that, basic rights such as innocent until proven guilty, the right to be notified of charges, the right to remain silent, the right to counsel, the right to presence of parent or guardian, the right to question witnesses and the right to appeal the case to a higher institution are violated in the juvenile justice system in Ghana.
Inadequate knowledge of legal and policy frameworks guaranteeing the basic rights of children and the youth limits the ability of parents, guardians and the youth to demand fair hearing and judgment. The lack of knowledge for example makes it possible for young people to be detained in police cells for more than 48 hours, and children to be place in handcuffs, contrary to the constitutional provisions. Among the factors limiting access to legal information is illiteracy and lack of local translations of various laws and policies.
As a Youth focused CSO, YBF considers youth awareness of their fundamental human rights including access to justice as crucial in helping them develop and reach their full potential for the country to tap into their potential for national development.
Hence to address some of the challenges highlighted, YBF with support from STAR-Ghana has introduced the “Youth Awareness Improves Justice” project, which seeks to increase the awareness of the rights and responsibilities of young people relating to justice.
The Youth Awareness Improves Justice project is geared towards expanding the scope of legal education for young people by simplifying legal processes & procedures and embarking on awareness creation and sensitization exercises on the Fundamental Human Rights, Children’s Act and Juvenile Justice Act through community-based outreach programs as well through the use of mobile technology platforms for information dissemination.
Through the project initiative the youth and public in general can now access the mentioned legal information on their mobile phones via text message and interactive voice response platforms in four local languages (Twi, Ga, Ewe and Dagbane ) on: MTN short code 1579.
 Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, (2011). Juvenile justice in Ghana: A study to assess the status of juvenile justice in Ghana