A child can commit an offense like an adult. A child is anybody under the age of 18 years. We know that sometimes a 16 or 17-year-old can commit the offenses of rape, stealing and even armed robbery. The question is, should we treat such a child who has committed the offense like how we treat the adults? The position is even more interesting when and if the offense is committed by a child who is about 17 years, 11 months old. What we will need to bear in mind is that we recognize a person to be a child not simply because they are young but because we believe they do not possess the full mental capacity to think like an adult. If this argument should hold sway, then it means that a child who commits a crime should not be treated like an adult.

The constitution says that a child who commits a crime shall be held separately from adults. The implication of this is that no child should be held in any of the maximum or medium security prisons in Ghana. In Ghana, child offenders are held in places like borstal institutes, one of which is at Roman Ridge. It is also a fact that child offenders are not tried in the mainstream courts but in the juvenile courts. This will afford the court the opportunity to handle the trial in a humane manner that will keep the child’s interest as a primary consideration.

Another important feature of the constitution is the prevention of slavery. The constitution forbids any person from making the other a slave. You cannot turn a person into your slave simply because he owes you money. Similarly, you cannot agree to buy a person and make them your slave because their parents have pledged them to you. In the past, whole communities had been turned into slaves because they were defeated in a war. These slaves, in turn, were sold to white men. This practice would continue until the champions were themselves defeated and also sold into slavery. It is key to note that under the current dispensation you cannot make any person your slave. Slavery is the subjection of a person to inhuman treatment, the subjugation of a person’s will and freedom and the continuous repression of his rights and enjoyment. Some people have converted their house helps and/or persons living with them into slaves without knowing. It is important to be fair and humane to all persons so that you will not be accused of turning them into slaves.

Another feature of the constitution is the aspect of forced labor. No one should be made to do any work they do not want to do. If you force anyone to work, you would be committing an offense under our laws. That is why it is important to get the consent of anyone you wish to employ, whether they can handle the responsibilities and chores given them.

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