Judicial team tours Wa Central Prisons

A team from the Upper West justice delivery system, led by the Supervising High Court Judge of Wa, Justice Kwasi Boakye, has paid a working visit to the Wa Central Prisons to ascertain the prevailing conditions there.

The visit followed a directive by the Chief Justice, Mrs. Georgina Theodora Woode, for judges in the regions to visit the prisons within their jurisdictions to ascertain at first hand, the general conditions and particularly that of remand prisoners.

Among the team were circuit court judges, magistrates, state attorneys, members of the judicial service, officials of the Narcotics Control Board and the police prosecution unit.

The team visited the cells for remand prisoners, the kitchen, the make-shift classroom and the workshop for the prisoners.

Giving his assessment after the visit, Justice Boakye said the deplorable conditions at the Wa Central Prisons required immediate attention.

He said the major decisions affecting remand prisoners would have to emanate from the leadership of the Judicial Council in Accra and pledged that the team would deliberate on its findings and forward its report to the appropriate quarters for redress.

Mr. Boakye assured that once a directive is issued from Accra concerning their report, they would expedite action on it to ensure that the plight of the prisoners was addressed.

He called on his colleagues to be mindful of their actions, and be guided by what they had all witnessed at the prisons to ensure that the rights of the people are not abused.

The Upper West Regional Director of the Ghana Prisons Service, Assistant Director of Prisons (ADP), Victor Douchebe, explained that the Wa Central Prisons was constructed by the colonialists in 1920, and had not seen any renovation since its construction 95 years ago.

He said the worrying aspect of the situation is the fact that the facility now accommodates 212 inmates, double the number it was initially built to accommodate.

Giving a breakdown of the number of prison inmates at the Wa Central Prisons, Mr. Douchebe said out of the total of 212 inmates, 173 were convicts, 33 remand prisoners, two trial prisoners, five on presidential pleasure and one condemned prisoner.

He said even though the cells for the remand prisoners were made to accommodate not more than eight prisoners, the congestion there meant that 35 prisoners were being accommodated in the cells.

The director said there was the urgent need for renovation and expansion of the facility, but added that the available land near the prisons was not adequate for any meaningful expansion works.

He said the service had a huge tract of land for farming activities of which a portion could be developed to house convicts whose term of sentence was not more than three years.

Touching on general conditions of service, he said accommodation continued to pose a major challenge to personnel of the service in the region.

He said in some instances, landlords had either threatened to evict or had evicted personnel of the service from their houses, because their rent was in arrears.

Mr. Douchebe said, currently rent of the personnel was in arrears of more than 18 months.

He said the Wa Prisons lacked logistics including vehicles to convey prisoners to and from courts, as well as to the hospital when they are sick.

He said the whole prison operates with only one rifle, describing it as dangerous for the service.

Mr. Douchebe, therefore, appealed to the government to turn its attention to the Wa Central Prisons, since it is the only prison in the region.

From Cliff Ekuful, Wa  

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