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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lamptey-Mills Not Yet Free

Nii Lamptey-Mills
Nii Lamptey-Mills
Officials of the Ghana Education Service (GES), the Ghana National Association of Private Schools (GNAPS) and others concerned about child and human rights issues have waded into the Lamptey-Mills saga with moves to conduct a full-scale investigation into the matter.

Mr Enoch Nii Lamptey-Mills, also known as Mr Tee, the proprietor of Great Lamptey-Mills Institute, allegedly impregnated one of his students, then 16, and forced her to marry him.

But an Accra Circuit Court, presided over by Mrs Georgina Mensah Datsa, on Thursday, October 22, 2009 discharged him of misdemeanour after the victim’s father had intervened for an out-of-court settlement.

The GES yesterday expressed indignation at the development, pointing out that “because the matter was in court, we decided not to go into it. But now that it is out of court, we are beginning investigations to ascertain its veracity or otherwise”.

Others who have waded into the matter are Nana Oye Lithur, a lawyer and human rights advocate, who authored a scathing letter published in the Daily Graphic issue of yesterday, and Child's Rights International (CRI), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) which has taken the matter to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).

The Head of the Public Relations Unit of the GES, Mr Charles Parker-Allotey, said in an interview with the Daily Graphic yesterday that Mr Lamptey-Mills and those connected with the matter would soon be invited to assist the GES in its investigations.

The guidelines of the GES under which all schools, be they private or public, operate, needed to be followed strictly to ensure smooth teaching and learning, he said.

The GNAPS has welcomed the decision of the GES to go into the matter. A source at the GNAPS said the truth needed to be known to clear all the doubts surrounding the matter.

In its petition to CHRAJ, the CRI stated that the “organisation has followed this matter from the beginning to its current development when the court granted the out-of-court settlement and would like to formally apply for your assistance to investigate and intervene in the issue”.

“The out-of-court settlement will involve the family, which cannot be trusted when it comes to the best interest of the child due to the initial agreement between Mr Lamptey-Mills and the family which could not yield any result for the said girl. Per the Children's Act, 1998 (Act 560) Section 48 Subsection 2d, we ask your intervention in order to make a claim of a proper maintenance order for the said girl," a statement signed by the Executive Director of the CRI, Mr Bright Appiah, said.

It said in such matters it was the constitutional right of the child to obtain a care order, as directed by Section 20 of the Children's Act 560, but investigations revealed that such a process had not taken place.

The absence of that service, it said, amounted to the fundamental violation of the child's rights to care and protection.
"Your outfit is, therefore, being implored to investigate why the Department of Social Welfare did not obtain the care order for the said girl in the matter when the trial was ongoing.

“Further, Mr Lamptey-Mills assumed the role of a parent as a proprietor in the school and, therefore, if, as a parent to all the children, he could use his position and posture to his advantage as per the rule of in loco parentis, we request your assistance to investigate whether this act amounted to a conflict of interest," it said.

The statement also pleaded with the commission to restrain the media from associating the personality of Mr Lamptey-Mills with the school, since, as an institution, it was providing services for children.

That, it said, was to say that the continuous publication of the school would not provide the conducive environment for the development of the children already in the institute.

"We, therefore, crave the indulgence of CHRAJ, per the interest of the child, as stated under the welfare principle of the Children's Act 560, to investigate the issue for the betterment of the child whose interest is paramount to CRI," it said.

The Commissioner of CHRAJ, Mr Emile Short, confirmed that CHRAJ had received the complaint from the CRI and was closely monitoring developments.

He said CHRAJ was not allowed to investigate cases pending at the courts, explaining that the case would qualify as such if the court had asked parties to settle the matter out-of-court and report back.

However, since the case bordered on the rights of a child, the commission was studying the proceedings of the court carefully to determine the course of action to take, he added.

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