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Executive Director of Child Rights International, Bright Appiah has emphasized that the ages of the teenagers who allegedly murdered an 11-year old boy for money rituals at Kasoa, in the Central Region is a determinant factor in how they must be handled by the police and also how they shall be tried in court.
Mr. Appiah stated this in an interview on midday news on TV3, Tuesday, April 6.
When asked about how worried his outfit is, concerning the ages of the suspects, he said, “the ages of the children are very, very important and if it’s established that they are below the age of 18 years then the course of trial will change. It will not take the form we are seeing it now, the way they are been handled and the kind of processes we have subjected them to, so clearly age is a determinant factor but in matters of this nature, where they are not certain about the age, then it means that we have left everything in the hands of the judge to determine where to place the children, as to whether they should be under police custody in the adult prison or whether they should be under police custody in a juvenile cell”.
“So these are issues that must be determined and immediately by the court so that the course of trial may begin. But if the age is not determined, then we are going to see some level of delay, then the way and manner that we need to handle this children is very, very important because our juvenile justice system requires that children who commit such offense, they must be handled in a manner that would also protect their dignity and then also privacy. So it is very, very important for the court to determine that” he pointed out.
Mr. Appiah said, “it’s unfortunate we have not been able to determine the age of these children till that time, so as we speak we don’t know how the police are going to handle these children whose age are in contention. So till the court resumes, we don’t know how these children are going to be handled, whether they are going to be put under police custody in an adult cell or under police custody in a juvenile cell and all that”.
“So it’s a very important matter, but for us we need to also know that in matters of this nature, where it involves a child, the whole society must come to the realization that there’s a way that we have to handle the matter and we expect the state institutions to demonstrate that. So we will continue to make these processes known to all stakeholders that are involved so that we handle this matter as it deserves”.
When asked about concerns in the media about the suspects needing psychological help, the Child Rights expert replied thus, “it is very important and that is why I’m very concerned about the age and if the age matter comes in then it means that all those services must be rendered to these children. Right from the day they were picked from the location, and then also how they were brought to the police station, how they were handled and even to adduce evidence from them”.
“You need to place them under very a conducive environment in order to get the kind of evidence you want in order to speed up the process, to identify all the culprits involved, who instructed them to undertake such an act or whose role has neglected them, for them to even come to the level where they have to engage in such acts. So if you are not able to do that, then all those services will be needless because if you’re above 18, the law says that you are at your own mercy when you commit offense, so the age is very important and the age will determine the kind of services the state will provide for them” he reiterated to Dela Michel.