A 14-year-old boy, Kweku Odeifour has been jailed four months at the Kumasi Central Prison for stealing her sister’s mobile phone.
According to Odeifour, he was hungry and was compelled to steal the phone to sell to get money for food. He claimed it was his first attempt at stealing, but it has unfortunately landed him in prison. The judge, Odeifour indicated, did not ask him of his age and went ahead to sentence him to the Kumasi Central Prison, a prison meant for adults.
He further indicated that “I could not sell the phone that I stole and I was arrested. I am 14 years old but when I was sent to court, the judge did not ask of my age”, he told crimecheckghana.
According to the Juvenile Justice Act, 2003 (ACT 653), a juvenile shall be dealt with in a manner, which is different from an adult. The Act states that a court of summary jurisdiction other than a juvenile court shall not hear any charge against or dispose of any matter, which affects a juvenile.
However, under section 17 of the same Act, a charge made against a juvenile for an offence, which if committed by an adult would be punishable by death, shall be heard by a summary jurisdiction other than a juvenile court. It states further that, a summary court can hear a charge made jointly against a juvenile and a person who has attained the age of eighteen years.
The Executive Director of Crime Check Foundation, CCF, Mr. Ibrahim Oppong Kwarteng who spoke to Odeifour raised the concern about the boy’s incarceration at the “Walled prison” instead of a borstal home.
CCF has since paid for the release of Odeifour, with support from a US- based-couple, Mr. and Mrs. Koomson, under its ‘STAY OUT OF TROUBLE’ program.
USAID Justice Sector Support Activity
The USAID Justice Sector Support Activity (JSSA) seeks to take keen interest in Odeifour’s issue as a human right concern. The JSSA is an intervention that seeks to reinforce efforts by the US Government to enhance Ghana’s justice delivery system by increasing Citizen Oversight and Monitoring of Criminal Cases, increasing citizen knowledge and access to Justice Sector services, and strengthening advocacy for accountability of key justice sector institutions for improved justice delivery in Ghana.