Amnesty International Ghana is deeply concerned by recent media reports detailing the purported marriage between a 12-year-old girl and a 63-year-old individual identified as Nuumo Borketey Laweh XXXIII, known as the Gborbu Wulomo of the Nungua traditional area in Accra. The traditional marriage ceremony reportedly occurred on Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Nungua.

We commend the proactive measures taken by the Ghana Police Service, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs to provide protection to the girl and her mother, who are currently under police safeguarding, as mentioned in their press statement issued on Sunday, April 1, 2024.

We urge the Inspector General of the Ghana Police to conduct a comprehensive investigation into this matter to hold accountable all individuals who sanctioned, endorsed, or participated in this act, which violates the fundamental rights of the girl. Such actions must serve as a deterrent to anyone who might consider similar actions in the future.

Amnesty International unequivocally condemns all forms of child marriage, a practice expressly prohibited under Chapter 5 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and further defined by the Children’s Act, 1998 (Act 560). According to Section 14 of the Act, a child is defined as an individual under the age of eighteen (18), and Section 14(1c) explicitly prohibits forcing a child into marriage.

We call upon the Ghana Police Service to diligently pursue their investigations and ensure that those responsible face the full force of the law, as stipulated in Section 15 of the Children’s Act a penalty of 500 cedis and a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year (a penalty that we believe government needs to review as soon as possible).

We implore all governmental and civil society organizations dedicated to safeguarding the rights of children, particularly young girls, to join us in advocating for the eradication of child marriage in Ghana.

Ghanaian law acknowledges customary marriages but firmly rejects the practice of child marriages under the guise of culture or tradition. It is imperative to halt traditional practices that infringe upon the rights of young girls, hindering their ability to fulfil their potential. Instead, we must uphold the principles enshrined in the laws of Ghana and ensure the protection of all children’s rights, both domestically and internationally.