51 remand prisoners freed under Justice For All Programme in Sunyani

The Justice For All Programme (JFAP), at the weekend set free 51 remand prisoners, including a woman, who have been incarcerated for more than six years in the Sunyani Central Prison.
The exercise primarily held to decongest the prison, saw 22 inmates unconditionally freed, and 29 others granted bail pending trial.
Three courts sat in the prison, and were presided over by three justices, Justice Clemence Honyenuga, an appeal court judge sitting as an additional high court judge, Justice Cephas Constance K Hometowu, a high court judge, and Justice Patrick Banyeh, also a high court judge.
Speaking to the media after proceedings, Justice  Honyenuga explained that  82 remand prisoners from the Sunyani Medium Prison, originally applied to be considered under the JFAP this year, but 22 were rejected because they failed to meet the criteria set up for enjoying the programme.
He said five others had their cases dismissed whilst four were referred for psychiatric examination.
According to Justice Honyenuga, the JFAP sought to speed up trial of special cases like those who been in prison for six years or more without trial.
He said two of the beneficiaries, who have been in incarceration on the charge of murder for more than six years, were unconditionally set free because it is against their human right.
Relatives of the ex-convicts were at the prison yard to welcome the freed persons back home.
One Solomon Abenya from Badu in the Tain District of the Brong-Ahafo Region told the Ghanaian Times that he was happy that his brother, who was remanded for two years without trial because he dealt in narcotic drugs without authority, was freed.
The JFAP was started in 2007 to decongest the country’s prisons, especially of remand prisoners, who are waiting to face trial but are being held unjustifiably due to loss of dockets, transfer of prosecutors and death of prosecutors among others.
The Sunyani Prison, which originally was meant to hold up 430 inmates, currently hold 904 prisoners.
The Deputy Director of Prisons and the Regional Commander of the Ghana Prisons Service, Asamoah Fenning, was happy the programme was successful, noting it would help to reduce the overcrowding in the prison.

From Daniel Dzirasah

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