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Politics of Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Source: Class FM

'Stop using children as campaign props' - Child Online to political parties

A children's protection group called Child Online Africa has warned political parties to desist from using children for their political campaigns ahead of the December polls.

According to Child Online such activities violate domestic, regional, global protocols as well as laws governing the rights of the child including provisions on child welfare as contained in Children’s (Amendment) Act 2016 of Ghana.

"As a result of these provisions, we remind parents of their crucial role as gatekeepers who have the responsibility of safeguarding the welfare of children and to caution that they prevent any political party or association from exploiting these young ones in such an undue manner," Child Online advised in a statement.

The child protection organisation added that it would be of interest for parents to note that such footages and other campaign materials or adverts uploaded on the internet create a digital footprint which in some cases could affect the fortunes or opportunities of the young ones in future.

Child Online also called on political parties to immediately order their campaign communications bureau to pull down any of their contents posted online which portrays the image or pictures of children being used as props for the 2020 campaign.

"These parties ought to be reminded that as much as they do not want minors to vote in the general elections, it is only fair that they also are excluded from all forms and spheres of electioneering either before, during and after the December polls."

Read the full statement below:

Child Online Africa has taken note of a regrettable trend on the internet especially social media which has seen many underaged persons either being coerced or lured into making political party endorsements or being propped to pursue a party-political agenda ahead of the 2020 general Elections.

1. We, first of all, believe that such activities on internet violate domestic, regional, global protocols as well as laws governing the rights of the child including provisions on child welfare as contained in Children’s (Amendment) Act 2016 of Ghana. Section 11 of the Act states that "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 wellbeing, the opinion of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child". However, there is the welfare principle which states “2. (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.

2. As a result of these provisions, we remind parents of their crucial role as gatekeepers who have the responsibility of safeguarding the welfare of children and to caution that they prevent any political party or association from exploiting these young ones in such an undue manner.

It would be of interest for parents to note that such footages and other campaign materials or adverts uploaded on the internet create a digital footprint which in some cases could affect the fortunes or opportunities of these young ones in future.

3. We also urge political parties to immediately order their campaign communications bureau to pull down any of their contents posted Online which portrays the image or pictures of children being used as props for the 2020 campaign. These parties ought to be reminded that as much as they do not want minors to vote in the general elections, it is only fair that they also be excluded from all forms and spheres of Electioneering either before, during and after the December polls.

4. The law enforcement agencies especially the cybercrime unit of the Ghana Police service must be seen to be effective at this time by acting swiftly to apprehend persons who are found culpable of this offence.

5. Media owners should contribute to child online protection by making sure their editorial policies include written procedures that ensure consistent implementation of policies and processes that protect freedom of expression for children and young people, as well as documentation of compliance with these policies.

Finally, as part of our digital citizenship campaign which is targeted at ensuring the responsible use of the internet our offices are open to parents and all other stakeholders who intend to support our course in order to safeguard the welfare of children, a prime objective that we aggressively pursue at Child Online Africa.

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