The effectiveness of the Ghanaian Juvenile Courts: the gap between policy and practice

Anku, Deladem Ama (2022) The effectiveness of the Ghanaian Juvenile Courts: the gap between policy and practice. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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As a state party of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of a Child and the first country to ratify it in 1990, the Government of Ghana indicated its willingness to protect youth's rights. In accordance with signing the treaty, the government established the Juvenile Justice Act (JJA) 2003 (Act 653) to locally implement the treaty's core imperatives. Despite the enthusiasm shown by the government, the few studies that exist in this neglected area suggest a gap between the spirit and the letter of the law. However, these studies have solely relied on anecdotal data, skewing the focus on the Juvenile Justice Act’s compliance to the international treaties. Contributing to the scant body of literature, in the current study, I explore the juvenile court's procedures in age determination and jurisdiction, bail and remand, duration of cases and sentencing procedures, and adherence to the policy of the JJA. I employed qualitative content analysis to data collected from 290 summarized court case dockets from the archival unit of the Ghana High Courts. The findings showed that the Ghanaian juvenile courts put in efforts to adhere to the guidelines in the JJA. However, the shortage of trained professionals, along with the system's lack of resources and logistics, impede the efforts of the juvenile courts. Based on the findings of this research, I recommend that the government ensure youth custodial facilities/institutions are responsible, in legislation and in practice, for the care and well-being of young people living there, by first allocating more resources and funding to the juvenile unit of the police and to the Department of Social Welfare, and by providing specialized training to people working in the youth justice system in Ghana.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 15506
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 88-98).
Keywords: youth, juvenile justice, Ghana
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Sociology
Date: May 2022
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Juvenile justice, Administration of--Ghana; Children's rights--Ghana; Children (International law); United Nations--Ghana; United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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