Togo: Children deprived of liberty (in prison or in police custody) & Fighting harmful practices, violence, exclusion and trafficking of children

 

 

 

Project regions: Regions Central and Kara in Togo


Duration: October 1, 2013 - April 30, 2017


Local partner: CREUSET Togo

 

 

Summary

 

This project supports children

  • in conflict with the law or
  • victims of violence, neglect or child trafficking or
  • particularly at risk,

in gaining access to their fundamental rights. A particular aim is directed towards the protection and rehabilitation of children who are persecuted for witchcraft. (read more on our campaign "Children are not witches!")

 

These children receive support in form of legal advice, protection and basic care. They are then supported in their social and educational or professional reintegration. Further measures strengthen the juvenile justice system in Togo with a focus on the application of resocialization programs.

Context

 

Many children living and/or working in the streets in Togo are easily exploited, abused or captured by traffickers who take children accross the borders all the way to Nigeria so that they work as cheap or even unpaid labor forces on the fields or in households. In addition, children on the streets are deprived of their fundamental rights, such as access to sufficient and balanced meals, proper sanitation, medical care, education, shelter and protection. On their daily search for food, they start begging or are tempted to steel here and there. If caught, they end up in police custody or in jail, where they face inhumane detention conditions and are often humiliated. However, due to prejudice and lacking legal assistance, some children are also detained inoccently. Most of the times, their employers accuse them of theft as a way to avoid paying their salary.

 

In 2007, Togo passed a modern legislative act aimed at the protection of children. Unfortunately, decrees necessary to put it into practice have not yet been issued. And very few representatives of the police or legal authorities have knowledge of the new regulations.

 

Therefore, in many prisons and police stations in Togo, children are detained together with adults, where they are easily abused or ill-treated by the latter. The detention cells are often crowded, badly ventilated and rarely have appropriate sanitary facilities. Diseases spread easily. There are no sufficient meals, medical care, psycho-social support or educational offers for children deprived of liberty.


After delayed public trials, in which the protection of the children’s identities is disregarded, the accused children often receive inappropriately high sentences. Existing prejudices throughout the population lead to great difficulties when it comes to their reintegration after liberation.


Similarly precarious are the situations, in which children have become victims to criminal offences, have been neglected or are particularly at risk. Usually, the police just hands them over to state-run social services. Due to missing human resources and financial possibilities, those are often incapable to adequately take care of and accompany these children.


Further, only few cases of violent or sexual offences upon children are reported to the police. The perpetrators rarely receive punishment due to extra-judicial settlements. Those usually ignore the interests of the child and lead to additional traumatization.

Project Objectives

 

The legal situation and the future prospects of children and adolescents who are in conflict with the law, who have become victims of violence or neglect, have improved in the Central region and in the region of Kara in Togo. In particular:

  • Children and adolescents, who are in contact with the police or with the judicial system, face a functioning juvenile justice system and staff, which is adequately educated and respects children’s rights. Mediation, the protection of victims and a system of reintegration and resocialization are parts of their legal experience.
  • The protection of these children has improved through active commitment of the civil society.
  • 340 affected children have access to legal procedures and structures of basic care. They receive support with their social and educational or professional reintegration.

Target Groups

 

  • 340 children and adolescents aged 4 - 18 years. Of these 340 children, there are 180, who are suspected or convicted of a crime, 110 children, who are victims of criminal offences, and 50 neglected children or children at risk.
  • 110 representatives of the police, and judiciary
  • 30 members of monitoring initiatives of the civil society
  • 100 members of other initiatives and groups of the civil society (local associations, traditional and religious authorities etc.)
  • 40 responsibles of local markets and private video shops
  • 30 professional instructors

Project Activities

 

  • Stabilizing children and adolescents in in the center for child protection of CREUSET
  • Support social, familial, educational and professional reintegration of effected children
  • Reinforcing competences of 110 public services in the areas of mediation and the protection of victims
  • Logistical support of court, police and gendarmerie for a contemporary and adequate treatment of children’s files
  • Advocacy and awareness-raising activities on the political level, to effectively implement national and international standards
  • Diminish prejudices about children in jail, street children and victims of violence by cooperating with local radio stations
  • Strengthening competences of the members of civil society organisations active in child protection
  • Finding possible solutions for the prevention of juvenile delinquency as well as violence against children
  • Constructing two non-governmental establishments for the observation of children’s rights in Kara and Kanté
  • protecting children accused for witchcraft by raising awareness in the campaign “Children are not witches!”
  • Sensitizing and mobilizing responsibles of local markets and private video shops for a possible cooperation in the areas of juvenile delinquency and child protection
  • Sensitizing and mobilizing professional instructors for supporting the reintegration of children

Funding

 

Project costs: € 680,160

 

Financial Partners:

  • German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
  • Sternstunden e. V.
  • Kinderrechte Afrika e. V. (donations)

Cover photo: Minors in police custody are waiting for their trial. No child shall be deprived of liberty, Art. 37 UN-CRC, but shall be properly treated in cases of conflicts with the law, Art. 40 UN-CRC. © CREUSET-Togo

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D-77933 Lahr

 

Tel.: 07821/38855

Fax: 07821/985755

info@kinderrechte-afrika.org

 

Spendenkonto:

Sparkasse Offenburg/Ortenau

BIC: SOLADES1OFG

IBAN:

DE 86 6645 0050 0000 0040 44

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