ACT OF THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA
THE CHILDREN'S ACT, 1998
AN ACT to reform and consolidate the law relating to children, to provide for the rights of the child, maintenance and adoption, regulate child labour and apprenticeship, for ancillary matters concerning children generally and to provide for related matters.
Date of assent: 30th December, 1998.
Be it enacted by Parliament as follows:
PART I. THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
Sub-Part I. Rights of the child and parental duty
Section 1. Definition of child. For purposes of this Act, a child is a person below the age of eighteen years.
Section 2. Welfare principle.
(1) The best interest of the child shall be paramount in any matter concerning a child.
(2) The best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration by any court, person, institution or other body in any matter concerned with a child.
Section 3. Non-discrimination.
No person shall discriminate against a child on the grounds of gender, race, age, religion, disability, health status, custom, ethnic origin, rural or urban background, birth or other status, socio-economic status or because the child is a refugee.
Section 4. Right to name and nationality.
No person shall deprive a child of the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality or the right as far as possible to know his natural parents and extended family subject to the provisions of Part IV, Sub-Part II of this Act.
Section 5. Right to grow up with parents.
No person shall deny a child the right to live with his parents and family and grow up in a caring and peaceful environment unless it is proved in court that living with his parents would:
(a) lead to significant harm to the child; or
(b) subject the child to serious abuse; or
(c) not be in the best interest of the child.
Section 6. Parental duty and responsibility.
(1) No parent shall deprive a child his welfare whether:
(a) the parents of the child are married or not at the time of the child's birth; or
(b) the parents of the child continue to live together or not.
(2) Every child has the right to life, dignity, respect, leisure, liberty, health, education and shelter from his parents.
(3) Every parent has rights and responsibilities whether imposed by law or otherwise towards his child which include the duty to:
(a) protect the child from neglect, discrimination, violence, abuse, exposure to physical and moral hazards and oppression;
(b) provide good guidance, care, assistance and maintenance for the child and assurance of the child's survival and development;
(c) ensure that in the temporary absence of a parent, the child shall be cared for by a competent person and that a child under eighteen months of age shall only be cared for by a person of fifteen years and above
except where the parent has surrendered his rights and responsibilities in accordance with law.
(4) Each parent shall be responsible for the registration of the birth of their child and the names of both parents shall appear on the birth certificate except if the father of the child is unknown to the mother.
Section 7. Right to parental property.
No person shall deprive a child of reasonable provision out of the estate of a parent whether or not born in wedlock.
Section 8. Right to education and
(1) No person shall deprive a child access to education, immunisation, adequate diet, clothing, shelter, medical attention or any other thing required for his development.
(2) No person shall deny a child medical treatment by reason of religious or other beliefs.
Section 9. Right to social activity.
No person shall deprive a child the right to participate in sports, or in positive cultural and artistic activities or other leisure activities.
Section 10. Treatment of the disabled child.
(1) No person shall treat a disabled child in an undignified manner.
(2) A disabled child has a right to special care, education and training wherever possible to develop his maximum potential and be self-reliant.
Section 11. Right of opinion.
No person shall deprive a child capable of forming views the right to express an opinion, to be listened to and to participate in decisions which affect his well-being, the opinion of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
Section 12. Protection from exploitative labour.
No person shall subject a child to exploitative labour as provided under section 87 of this Act.
Section 13. Protection from torture and degrading treatment.
(1) No person shall subject a child to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment including any cultural practice which dehumanises or is injurious to the physical and mental well-being of a child.
(2) No correction of a child is justifiable which is unreasonable in kind or in degree according to the age, physical and mental condition of the child and no correction is justifiable if the child by reason of tender age or otherwise is incapable of understanding the purpose of the correction.
Section 14. Right to refuse betrothal and marriage. (1) No person shall force a child:
(a) to be betrothed;
(b) to be the subject of a dowry transaction; or
(c) to be married.
(2) The minimum age of marriage of whatever kind shall be eighteen years.
Section 15. Penalty for contravention.
Any person who contravenes a provision of this Sub-Part commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding c5 million or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year or to both.
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