Justice for all has reduced prisoner population-C.J

CHIEF JUSTICE GEORGINA WOODThe Chief Justice, Mrs. Georgina Theodora Wood, has noted that the Justice For All Programme has led to a reduction in the remand prisoners population in the country.

Speaking during the stakeholders workshop in Accra yesterday, she said 3,293 inmates had appeared before the Justice for All Programme since its inception in 2007, and out of the number, 672 were discharged and 985 granted bail.

The Chief Justice said 135 were also convicted, and others referred to the psychiatric hospitals for medical attention, while some had their expired warrant renewed to enable them stand trial.

Speaking on the theme, ‘Justice for all; strength, weakness and the way forwarded,’ she said the initiative was aimed at taking the justice delivery system to the doorstep of the marginalised and reduce congestion at the various prisons in the country.

Mrs. Wood noted that the Justice for All constituted a key component of rule of law, promotion and protection of human rights of prisoners, adding that making an introspection of the criminal justice system was timely.

She urged the Stakeholders’ Forum to consider coming out with a manual, setting out procedures, among others, under which the Justice for All Programme would continuously operate.

The Chief Justice urged the media to be circumspect in their reportage on the programme, and help educate the public on its importance.

The Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Joe Ghartey, who initiated the programme in 2007, during his tenure as Minister of Justice, and Attorney General, said he introduced it due to his desire to protect the human rights of prisoners.

He said lots of the people in prison should not have been there, noting that petty crimes had attracted unreasonable sentences which could only be reversed by a court process or by presidential pardon.

According to him, the programme was built on four structures, remand review project, sentencing policy project, the systems analysis project and the prosecutors training programme.

Mr. Ghartey expressed his appreciation for the success of the programme, and urged public servants to use their positions for public good.

Mr. Ghartey acknowledged the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Prison Service, private legal practitioners and all other stakeholders involved in the programme which had entered its ninth year.

In a speech read on her behalf, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong said justice should not only be done, but delivered in time to all.

“The horrifying accounts of accused persons who have been in custody for years without trial, have hit all stakeholders badly, and there must be a resolve to address the situation,” she stated.

She noted that the programme had built a synergy among key institutions to deliver justice to victims of crime and called for greater funding from the government to ensure its sustainability when donor funds were eventually withdrawn.

 

By Edem Mensah-Tsotorme

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