Jailing of 16-year-old abuse of his fundamental rights; he deserves huge compensation-Lawyer

Human Rights lawyer, Xavier Sosu says the jailing of the 16-year-old Junior High School graduate over a Ghc10 theft for 25 years was an abuse of his fundamental human rights.

The lawyer told Kwabena Agyapong on Frontline on Rainbow Radio 87.5Fm that there were lot of illegalities surrounding the incarceration of the 16-year-old boy.

He explained to the host the boy should have been prosecuted under the Juvenile Justice System because he was below 18 at the time of the alleged crime he is accused of committing.

Abdallah Mohammed, was under 16 years old when the court sentenced him to a 25-year jail term in the Kumasi Central Prison for robbing someone of GH¢10.00.

Aside being jailed 25 years as a juvenile, he was also sentenced to an adult prison, where he has already spent 10 years of his jail term. Abdallah Mohammed, 25, had exactly eight days to celebrate his 16th birthday.

But the joy of having successfully completed Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and a gladdened heart set to celebrate his new age ] cut short, after he found himself in the grips of the law on June 23, 2009.

He was arrested by a mob, together with a supposed accomplice, Seidu Elliasu, 25, (trader) at Akwatia Line, Kumasi in the Ashanti region for allegedly attacking one Moro Haruna and robbing him of his GH¢10.00 and bunch of keys. Abdallah Mohammed denied committing the crime.

After receiving severe beatings from his captors, the two suspects, were handed over to the Zongo Police station.

Abdallah, 15 years old at the time, and his alleged accomplice, Seidu were arraigned before court and were charged on two counts; (a) Conspiracy to commit crime contrary to section 23 (1) of Act 29/60 and (b) Robbery, which is contrary to section 149 of the Criminal Code 1960 of ACT 29.

The Kumasi Circuit Court was presided over by his Honour, Emmanuel Amo–Yartey (Esq)

But lawyer Sosu says the issue if true as reported smacks of injustice and abuse of the victim’s human rights.

According to him, the lawyer requires that when a juvenile is arrested over a crime, he or she should be questioned in the presence of his parents or lawyer.

Section 22—Assistance to Juvenile states that: The Juvenile Court shall, at the commencement of proceedings in court, inform the juvenile in a language that the juvenile understands of the following, (a) the right to remain silent; (b) the right to have a parent, guardian, close relative or probation officer present at the proceedings; (c) the right to legal representation; and (d) the right to Legal Aid.

Lawyer Sosu said all these provisions were violated saying, ‘’the human rights of the victim has been violated.’’

He said although justice was supposed to be fair, it does not work in favour of the poor and has therefore underscored the need for people to be given fair justice no matter their status or class in society.

When asked if there could be compensation for the boy he said, ‘’if we have enough evidence to prove that his fundamental rights were abused then we can have it quashed. This is case we can even quash. In other words there is an error on the face of the record. We can rely on this and ask the court to quash the case. He described the case as a error of the law, and because the fundamental rights have been abused, we have to compensate the boy. But in Ghana, compensations given to individuals who have been abused is terribly bad,’’ he added.

In answering a question on whether the judge whop presided over the matter could be punished he said, ”there is no punishment for the judge because when you preside over a case and you take a decision in exercise of your judicial powers, there would be no punishment for you even though some of these things go against them [judges]. Unfortunately, there would no punishment for the judge but it could affect him administratively in so many other ways.”

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