ATTORNEY GENERAL MUST ACT NOW!

IT is disheartening that at the time Ghana is receiving praise for upholding the rule of law and respect for the rights of its citizens, a murder suspect could be held in remand for as long as six years.

As reported on the front page of The Ghanaian Times yesterday, the suspect has been in prison custody since 2008, awaiting a Bill of Indictment which the Attorney General’s Department is yet to prepare for prosecution to begin.

The suspect, Emmanuel Ayeh Asare, the prime suspect and grandson of the murder victim Emmanuel Ayeh, has been behind bars from February 2008, while his accomplice has been granted bail.

The Times is shocked that for six long years, a Bill of Indictment has not been completed for the trial to begin.

It is quite strange that the only excuse for the non-completion of the bill is that, witnesses are unwilling to come forward to testify against the suspects. Why then do we have to keep a suspect for that long, if we cannot determine his guilt or innocence in court?

We are worried that the case has dragged on this long, which could be a source of worry for the deceased’s family. As things stand now, the family cannot overcome the trauma, as they await justice.

This is not only unfair to a traumatised family, but also an undue deprivation of the suspects’ liberty whose guilt or innocence is yet be determined.

It is becoming increasingly worrying and a matter of major concern that some suspects continue to remain in custody for a long time, due to one reason or another.

It is unacceptable for suspects to be in incarceration at the pleasure of prosecutors. As a matter of fact, many more prisoners are languishing in prisons across the country without trial.

The state has a responsibility to ensure the speedy trial of these prisoners in order to ensure that they are not unduly kept in prison custody for many years before having their day in court.

We urge the government and the Attorney-General’s Department to, as a matter of urgency, address the pre-trial detention challenges to ensure justice and fairness.

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