The government has been urged to make it mandatory for all hospitals to use the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to treat victims of crime particularly children and women who become victims of defilement, rape and other forms of assault.
Northern Regional Director of the Legal Aid Commission, Issah Mahmudu, who made the call, said this would ensure that such victims, no matter their financial conditions, would have access to medical treatment and medical reports to be used to seek justice at the law courts.
He made the call in Tamale when facilitating a training programme for selected police personnel drawn from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions to build their capacity to promote and protect the rights of children.
The training was organised by the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) as part of its Justice for Children project, dubbed “Justice for Children: Bridging the gap between Legislation and Practice”, which is being implemented with support from the European Union.
The project aims to bridge the gap between legislation and practice within the broad outlook of the country’s justice for children system by ensuring that children in conflict and in contact with the law are adequately protected and their rights promoted through targeted interventions including policy and legislative reforms as well as enhanced service delivery.
Mr Mahmudu said the current situation where victims of such crimes were made to pay medical officers to treat and endorse police medical forms for them was hindering victims’ access to health care and justice at the courts.
Mr Mahmudu also called for an extensive training for police personnel to better understand their job to respect the rights of juveniles, who came into contact and conflict with the law.
Project Officer at LRC, Robert Tettey Nomo Jr, said police personnel were key in juvenile rights protection hence the training to help uphold the rights of children when enforcing the laws.
He said as part of the project, the LRC had so far trained prisons officers, judicial staff, and some paralegals, adding that, personnel of the Ghana Immigration Service would also be trained to help improve the situation for child offenders.