The Supreme Court will on November 22, this year, decide whether or not the presence and plight of street children is constitutional and lawful.
A seven-member panel of the court is expected to give the judgment in a suit filed by a non-governmental organisation, Child Rights International (CRI).
The court will decide whether the plight of street children is a violation of Articles 25(a), 28 (1) (a), (d), (2) (3) (4), 13(1) and 37 of the 1992 Constitution.
Led by its Executive Director, Bright Appiah, it is the case of CRI that the 1992 Constitution protects children and therefore by allowing children to fall victim to streetism, the government was violating the children’s constitutional right to education, health, human dignity, and denying them their social and economic rights.
Streetism is used to describe children who live and work on the streets due to a lack of family ties or worse still, stuck in manipulative relationships, where their guardians (or in certain cases parents) use them to support the household financially, through various activities on the streets.
The applicant, whose work seeks to protect and safeguard the social, educational and constitutional rights of children, is asking the court for a number of reliefs and declarations.
Among these are the declaration that the Government of Ghana is in breach of Articles 25(a), 28 (1) (a), (d), (2) (3) (4), 13(1) and 37 of the 1992 Constitution for not taking urgent steps to ensure that children do not engage in work that constitutes a threat to their health, education or development and that children are not deprived of medical treatment, education or any social or economic benefit.
Again, the applicant is seeking an order directed at government to define by law penalties for child exploitation for begging or other forms of economic exploitation to punish all those who may try to benefit or gain money from children’s work; an order directed at government to improve the law on healthcare, by defining by law the provision of free primary health services to all poor children, children living in street situation or children in emergency situations.
Additionally, the applicant is seeking an order directed at government to provide rules and procedures to be followed for the provision of free basic medical services to poor children, children in street situation or children in emergencies. Again, it wants mechanism to include agencies that can ask for this help on behalf of children and an order to implement mechanisms to control and enforce the legal framework guaranteeing education for all children.
It is further seeking an order directed at the government for procedures related to school enrolment of children in street situations and their provision with the necessary didactic material; and also, an order for government to submit to the court, not later than three months from the date of final judgment, a plan of action detailing all the steps, strategies, and measurable targets by which the defendants undertake to obey and perform the orders contained in the reliefs the applicant is seeking.
Moreover, the applicant is seeking an order directed at government to submit to the court, two years from the date of final judgment and thereafter every six months until the expiry of the three-year plan of action, a report particularising all the steps taken, and targets met in obeying the orders of the court.