No Cash For Correctional Centres


Bright Appiah, Executive Director, CRI
Child Rights International (CRI), a non profit organisation advocating for the rights of children nationwide, has reported that children in most remand homes and correctional centres across the country are being severely starved due to government’s failure to make funds available for their upkeep.

The group is worried that the no cash syndrome has crept into the country’s juvenile reformation centres, making reformation of young suspected criminals very difficult.

In the recent past, government has been finding it difficult to meet its financial commitments to statutory bodies and programmes such as NHIS, GETFund, District Assembly Common Fund, Stool Land Administration, Capitation Grant for schools and School Feeding Programme among others, thereby subjecting

agencies and bodies relying on these funds to severe financial constraint.

The CRI in its recent report titled, ’The Broken Promise: The Right of Juveniles to Education, Feeding and Health’, pointed out that remand homes and correctional centres nationwide, including the Junior Boys Correctional Centre, Agona Swedru, Cape Coast Remand Home and the Junior Girls Correctional Centre in Osu, among others, have not received financial support from government for

years. The report revealed that these homes have been surviving on handouts

from benevolent individuals, groups and organisations.

‘The Agona Swedru centre has not received funds from the state for the past three to four years. The Junior Girls Correctional Centre and the Cape Coast Remand Home have also not received funds from the state for the past one year,’ the report stated.

Children in these centres and homes have little or no access to healthcare, education and food, the report revealed, adding that the ‘right to education of juveniles on remand is curtailed and there is no supplementary assistance for the children to still feel part of the educational system.’

‘Managers of these centres and homes struggle to properly feed the children because of the absence of funds,’ it said, and added that ‘they rely heavily on public donations from Non Governmental Organisations to feed the children.’

It disclosed that ‘most of the children are not registered under the NHIS, making healthcare delivery difficult for the managers of the facilities.’

No Pads
Female inmates in these centres do not have access to sanitary pads and only use sanitary pads when NGOs make donations to them, according to the report.

Appeal
Meanwhile, CRI has appealed to government to urgently address the plight of children in these centres and homes.

‘It is obvious that juveniles in Junior Correctional Centres do not have feeding allowance. Therefore it is only appropriate for the state to ensure that specific amounts are allocated and disbursed on time for the centres to feed juveniles,’ it charged.

‘The state should provide teaching assistants for juveniles on remand so that they can still have access to education whilst displaced,’ it said, calling on the ‘Department of Social Welfare to get all children in the Correctional Centres and Remand Homes registered under the National Health Insurance Scheme.’

Furthermore, the child rights body appealed to government to provide sanitary pads for female juveniles in the correctional centres, pleading with judges to ‘consider diversion as an alternative to custodial commitment of juveniles to correctional centres in order to deal with stigmatisation.’

BY Melvin Tarlue

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