Dr. Kofi Boakye: Abolishing the death penalty in Ghana: Beyond human rights 11th World Day Against the Death Penalty, EU Delegation in Ghana, Accra, 10 October 2013

The EU Delegation to Ghana and the French Embassy in Accra, on October 10, 2013 organised a roundtable discussion in Accra, to commemorate the 11th World Day/Europe Day against Death Penalty chaired by EU ambassador Claude Maerten, Head of the EU delegation to Ghana. Speakers included the Deputy of the Embassy of France in Ghana, Mrs Cécile Vigneau, the Chairman of the Constitutional Review Implementation Committee, Prof. E.V.O. Dankwa and the Commissioner of Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Mrs Loretta Lemptey.  There were two presentations from Dr. Kofi E. Boakye, Psychology Department and Dr. Peter Atupare, Faculty of Law, both of the University of Ghana.

The roundtable was attended by representatives of the Diplomatic Corps, human rights defenders and Ghanaian law, students to examine some of the challenges and opportunities for Ghana and countries worldwide in their efforts towards the abolition of Death Penalty.

The roundtable discussions focussed on two core issues: Abolishing of the Death Penalty: beyond human rights and Abolishing of the Death Penalty in Ghana: challenges of the Constitutional Review Implementation Committee.

Ambassador Claude Maerten read the joint Declaration by Catherine Ashton, Europe Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Secure Policy and Mr. Jagland , Secretary General of the Council of Europe to commemorate the Day.

Dr. Justice Tankebe: Rule of Law: A question of legitimacy

7th Milestones of a Global Campaign for Violence Prevention Meeting

22 SEPTEMBER 2015. GENEVA. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, due to be formally adopted by governments around the world on 25-27 September 2015, includes the prevention of violence, and has several targets that address the underlying causes of violence. This week at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, some 200 of the world’s leading violence prevention experts gathered to discuss how best to harness the powerful opportunities for strengthening interpersonal violence prevention that are contained in the Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As detailed in WHO’s Global status report on violence prevention 2014, each year an estimated 475 000 people are murdered, millions more receive hospital emergency care due to injuries resulting from physical and sexual assault, and countless others suffer child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, sexual abuse, and elder abuse in silence. Beyond death, injury and disability, the consequences of non-fatal violence on physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health often last a lifetime. Violence also contributes to leading causes of death such as cancer, heart disease and HIV/AIDS, because victims are at an increased risk of adopting behaviours such as smoking, alcohol and drug misuse, and unsafe sex. Through such consequences, interpersonal violence erodes the human and social capital of countries, and can undermine development.

Interpersonal violence is predictable and preventable. Evidence shows that a major proportion of violence-related death and suffering is avoidable through investment in prevention approaches such as: parenting support; enhanced early childhood development programmes; life and social skills training for children and adolescents; reducing alcohol availability and access to firearms; problem-oriented policing; urban upgrading and poverty de-concentration. The responsibility for addressing interpersonal violence through these measures rests clearly with national governments.

“Given what we know about the substantial negative effects of interpersonal violence on individuals and societies, and its preventability, the forthcoming adoption of SDG targets for its prevention is a momentous opportunity for governments and people everywhere to scale up their commitment to and investments in prevention” said Dr Etienne Krug, Director of WHO’s Department for the Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention.

Four SDG targets concern violence prevention directly. Targets 5.2 and 5.3 focus on ending violence against women and girls, Target 16.1 calls for significantly reducing all forms of violence everywhere, and Target 16.2 for ending all forms of violence against children. Several other SDG targets focus on important underlying causes that cut across all forms of interpersonal violence, including targets for poverty reduction, increased social protection, reduced access to alcohol and drugs, enhanced early childhood development, improved urban planning, and strengthened rule of law and justice systems.

Commenting on these SDG targets, Dr Alexander Butchart, WHO Coordinator for the Prevention of Violence, noted that “WHO and its violence prevention partners have long called for an approach that integrates violence prevention goals into all relevant policies. At this 7th Milestones in a Global Campaign for Violence Prevention Meeting, we mapped out the links between the direct violence prevention SDG targets and those that address the underlying causes. We will then use this map to develop a policy template that governments can draw upon in designing national violence prevention plans and policies”.

More opposed to death penalty — Survey

A recent survey on “Public Support for the Death Penalty in Ghana” has shown that more people (48. 3 per cent) are opposed to the death penalty than those who support it (40.7 per cent).

It indicated that 60.9 per cent of the respondents supported the abolition of the death penalty for treason, while 53.9 per cent supported it for murder, with 53 per cent supporting it for genocide.The survey showed that among those who supported the abolition of the death penalty for murder, the two most important reasons cited were the sacredness of life (33 per cent) and the fear that innocent people might be executed (32 per cent).

“On this evidence, opposition to the death penalty in Ghana would seem stronger than what currently pertains in the United Kingdom (UK), where a recent YouGov Poll shows 39 per cent opposition,” it indicated.

Method of study

The study involved a face-to-face survey of 2,460 people randomly selected from four communities in Accra, namely, Chorkor, Nima, Teshie-Nungua Estate and the East Legon Residential Area.

The fieldwork was conducted in April and May 2014.

It was conducted by the Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice, with Dr Peter Atupare Atudiwe of the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, Legon; Dr Kofi E. Boakye and Dr Justice Tankebe, both of the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK, as the researchers.

Rationale for study

The study was conducted against the backdrop that Ghana is among the countries that still retain the death penalty, with 138 convicts presently on death row for three main types of offences – murder, genocide and treason.

However, no executions have taken place since 1993.

In June 2012, the government published a White Paper in which it accepted the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) to abolish the death penalty and replace it with imprisonment for life without parole.

The study, therefore, sought to provide baseline data on public attitudes to the death penalty, the sources and nature of resistance to abolition and backlash effects.

The overall aim of the researchers was twofold: First, to provide research evidence that contributed to public discourse on the death penalty as Ghana prepared to vote on the relevant constitutional amendments.

Second, to provide baseline data that would allow the tracking of trends in public attitudes over the next several decades.

Other findings

The survey indicated that males were more likely than females to favour the death penalty.

It, however, showed that there was no difference in attitudes between victims and non-victims of violent crime.

It indicated that the most preferred replacement for the death penalty was life imprisonment without parole.

“Approximately 71 per cent of the people interviewed chose life imprisonment without parole as the alternative to the death penalty in the case of those convicted of genocide, 66 per cent for murder and 65 per cent for treason convicts,” it stated.

The survey showed very little evidence of potential backlash in the form of support for vigilante violence or lynching, with only 26 per cent of the respondents indicating they would take the law into their own hands if the death penalty was abolished.

“Interestingly, they believed approximately 87 per cent of people will not resort to vigilante violence,” it added.


The survey recommended that advocates of the abolition of the death penalty should make greater efforts in that respect.

It also recommended that public engagement programmes on the abolition of the death penalty should move away from a human rights argument to a focus on the sacredness of life and uncertainties in establishing the guilt of suspects which might result in wrongful executions.

It further stressed the need for investments in systematic studies that tracked changes in public attitudes and the conditions associated with those changes in order to preempt a return to the death penalty after it had been abolished.

Writer’s Email: [email protected]


Use of body-worn cameras sees complaints against police ‘virtually vanish’, study finds

Year-long study of almost 2,000 officers across UK and US forces shows introduction of wearable cameras led to a 93% drop in complaints made against police by the public – suggesting the cameras result in behavioural changes that ‘cool down’ potentially volatile encounters.

There can be no doubt that body-worn cameras increase the transparency of frontline policing. Anything that has been recorded can be subsequently reviewed, scrutinised and submitted as evidence

Barak Ariel

Body-worn cameras are fast becoming standard kit for frontline law enforcers, trumpeted by senior officers and even the US President as a technological ‘fix’ for what some see as a crisis of police legitimacy. Evidence of effectiveness has, however, been limited in its scope.

Now, new results from one of the largest randomised-controlled experiments in the history of criminal justice research, led by the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology, show that the use by officers of body-worn cameras is associated with a startling 93% reduction in citizen complaints against police.

Researchers say this may be down to wearable cameras modifying behaviour through an ‘observer effect’: the awareness that encounters are recorded improves both suspect demeanour and police procedural compliance. Essentially, the “digital witness” of the camera encourages cooler heads to prevail.

The experiment took place across seven sites during 2014 and early 2015, including police from areas such as the UK Midlands and the Californian coast, and encompassing 1,429,868 officer hours across 4,264 shifts in jurisdictions that cover a total population of two million citizens. The findings are published today in the journal Criminal Justice and Behaviour.

The researchers write that, if levels of complaints offer at least some guide to standards of police conduct – and misconduct – these findings suggest that use of body-worn cameras are a “profound sea change in modern policing”.

“Cooling down potentially volatile police-public interactions to the point where official grievances against the police have virtually vanished may well lead to the conclusion that the use of body-worn cameras represents a turning point in policing,” said Cambridge criminologist and lead author Dr Barak Ariel.

“There can be no doubt that body-worn cameras increase the transparency of frontline policing. Anything that has been recorded can be subsequently reviewed, scrutinised and submitted as evidence.”

“Individual officers become more accountable, and modify their behaviour accordingly, while the more disingenuous complaints from the public fall by the wayside once footage is likely to reveal them as frivolous.

“The cameras create an equilibrium between the account of the officer and the account of the suspect about the same event – increasing accountability on both sides.”

However, Ariel cautions that one innovation, no matter how positive, is unlikely to provide a panacea for a deeply rooted issue such as police legitimacy.

Complaints against police are costly: both financially and in terms of public trust, say researchers. In the US, complaints can be hugely expense – not least through multimillion-dollar lawsuits. In the UK last year, the IPCC reported a continuous rise in complaints across the majority of forces.

Ariel worked with colleagues from RAND Europe and six different police forces: West Midlands, Cambridgeshire, West Yorkshire, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and Rialto and Ventura in California, to conduct the vast experiment.

Each trial was managed by a local point of contact, either an officer or civilian staff member – all graduates of the Cambridge University Police Executive Programme.

Every week for a year, the researchers randomly assigned each officer shift as either with cameras (treatment) or without (control), with all officers experiencing both conditions.

Across all seven trial sites during the 12 months preceding the study, a total of 1,539 complaints were lodged against police, amounting to 1.2 complaints per officer. By the end of the experiment, complaints had dropped to 113 for the year across all sites – just 0.08 complaints per officer – marking a total reduction of 93%.

Surprisingly, the difference between the treatment and control groups once the experiment began was not statistically significant; nor was the variations between the different sites.

Yet the before/after difference caused by the overall experimental conditions across all forces was enormous. While only around half the officers were wearing cameras at any one time, complaints against police right across all shifts in all participating forces almost disappeared.

Researchers say this may be an example of “contagious accountability”: with large scale behavioural change – in officers but also perhaps in the public – seeping into almost all interactions, even during camera-less control shifts, once the experiment had introduced camera protocols to participating forces.

“It may be that, by repeated exposure to the surveillance of the cameras, officers changed their reactive behaviour on the streets – changes that proved more effective and so stuck,” said co-author Dr Alex Sutherland of RAND Europe.

“With a complaints reduction of nearly 100% across the board, we find it difficult to consider alternatives to be honest,” he said.

Critically, researchers say these behaviour changes rely on cameras recording entire encounters, and officers issuing an early warning that the camera is on – reminding all parties that the ‘digital witness’ is in play right from the start, and triggering the observer effect.

In fact, results from the same experiment, published earlier this year, suggest that police use-of-force and assaults on officers actually increase if a camera is switched on in the middle of an interaction, as this can be taken as an escalation of the situation by both officer and suspect.

“The jolt of issuing a verbal reminder of filming at the start of an encounter nudges everyone to think about their actions more consciously. This might mean that officers begin encounters with more awareness of rules of conduct, and members of the public are less inclined to respond aggressively,” explained Ariel.

“We suspect that this is the ‘treatment’ that body-worn cameras provide, and the mechanism behind the dramatic reduction in complaints against police we have observed in our research.”


Atupare launches law book

The Statute Law Revision Commissioner, Justice V. C. R. A. C. Crabbe, has advised judges and legal practitioners that in looking at the practical side of the law, it is important for them to also look at the spirit of the law.

That, he said, would ensure an objective interpretation of the law in order to enhance justice delivery.Mr Justice Crabbe made the point in Accra at the launch of a book titled: “Constitutional Justice in Africa: An Examination of Constitutional Positivism, Fundamental Law and Rights in Ghana and Nigeria”.

The book, authored by Dr Atudiwe P. Atupare, a lecturer at the Faculty of Law of the University of Ghana, seeks to develop a theory of constitutional interpretation based upon a conception of law that allows the existing Constitutions of Ghana and Nigeria to be construed as law in a manner that best serves the collective well-being of the people.

Contents of book

Recommended to judges, lawyers, law teachers, law students and policy makers as a must-read, the book addresses the pertinent question of the justifiability of socio-economic rights in Africa.

It is captured in seven chapters and deals with topics such as “The Constitutional Setting for Human Rights in Ghana and Nigeria”, “The Constitution as a Fundamental Law for the Collective Good”, “Theories of Rights and the Legitimacy of Judicial Review” and “Independent Courts and Judicial Application of Fundamental Law Theories in Ghana and Nigeria”.

Other topics are, “General Approaches to Constitutional Interpretation in Ghana and Nigeria”, “Fundamental Law, Human Rights and the Directive Principles Jurisprudence in Ghana and Nigeria” and “Consolidating an Integrated Rights Approach: Socio-Economic Constitutional Justice in Ghana and Nigeria”.

Appraisal of book

Mr Justice Crabbe, who launched the book, lauded the author for his scholarship, saying Dr Atupare followed the footsteps of legal scholars such as John Mensah-Sarbah, J. B. Danquah and Prof. Justice Samuel Date-Bah in looking at how far the practice of law should be construed in its objective sense.

He urged members of the legal fraternity to acquire a copy of the book and avoid making photocopies of it.

Reviewing the book, Prof. Justice Date-Bah, who is a retired Supreme Court Judge, described it as very good, controversial, intellectually stimulating and makes fascinating reading.

He recommended it to all and sundry in the legal fraternity.


Dr Atupare said he was motivated to write the book because “there is a failure in Africa, if not silence, for judges to indicate which schools of thought they belong to when it comes to the question of ‘what is law?’”.

“If judges are unable to tell us which school of thought they belong to in respect of this jurisprudential part, then we are open to speculation that the party that appoints the judge is important, and anytime he is sitting and that party comes before him, he will do its bidding,” he said.

Dr Atupare said he attempted, in his book, to dispel that notion by stimulating a much focused discussion on the issue.

“I thought that it is important for researchers in advanced institutions such as the universities to help these institutions and personalities whose job it is to deal with these key questions,” he remarked.

The first copy of the book was auctioned for GH¢5000, and purchased by the Director of MountCrest University College, Mr Kwaku Ansa-Asare, while the Deputy Minister of Education (Tertiary), Mr Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa, grabbed the second copy for GH¢4000.


Attorney-General sued over inhumane conditions at prisons

Three lawyers have sued the Attorney-General, Marietta Appiah-Oppong, for what they say are inhumane and degrading conditions at the country detention centres.

Martin Kpebu, Francis Ontoyin and Nana Akwasi Awuah want the Supreme Court to cause the government to explain its failure to separate toilet facilities at the prisons from the bedroom of the inmates, resulting in the use of a toilet by an inmate in the presence of other inmates.

The practices, the plaintiffs believe, “is cruel, inhumane and degrading and also detracts a prisoner/remandee’s dignity and worth, and therefore inconsistent with” the 1992 Constitution.

Poor conditions at the country’s prisons is an over-drummed problem. Many of Ghana’s prisons are overcrowded, making life unbearable for inmates.

A report released by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations (UN) in 2014 indicated that the human right conduct in Ghana’s prisons does not meet international standards.

A Joy News documentary this year also revealed that the poor conditions at prisons across the country are getting worse.

Read in full the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs below:

1. On a true and proper interpretation of article 15(1), (2) and clause (4) of article 35 of the Constitution, (1992) the government’s failure to separate toilet facilities in prisons from the bedroom resulting in the use of a toilet by an inmate in the presence of other inmates in Ghanaian prisons is cruel, inhumane and degrading and also detracts a prisoner/remandee’s dignity and worth, and therefore inconsistent with the said provisions;

2. On a true and proper interpretation of articles 15(1), (2) and 35(4) of Constitution, (1992) a remandee and a convicted prisoner are entitled to a minimum floor space of 3 square metres and 4 square metres respectively in order to maintain their dignity and worth as enshrined in clauses (1) and (2) of article 15 and clause (4) of article 35 of the constitution, 1992;

3. On a true and proper interpretation of article 15(1),(2) and clause (4) of article 35 of the constitution, 1992 the inadequate medical personnel, medical facilities and medicine for the treatment of sick prisoners in Ghanaian prisons is inconsistent with the said provisions;

4. A declaration that the Government of Ghana is in breach of articles 15(1), (2) and 35(4) of the Constitution, (1992) for not taking urgent steps to ensure separate bed for each prisoner, sufficient toilet facilities and good nutritional diet for prisoners and which failure also breaches international standards;

5. An order directed at the defendant to provide additional prisons or expand existing prison facilities in order to ease the congestion and overcrowding currently prevalent in the existing prisons in order to meet the requirement stated in relief (2) and that until additional prisons are constructed or expansion works are carried out in existing prisons, the defendant must ease the current congestion by transferring excess prisoners in existing prisons to temporary detention facilities;

6. An order directed at the defendant to provide sufficient beds, or other safe and clean sleeping facility for each person being held in any prison in Ghana and to renovate, paint, clean, and/or disinfect all dilapidated prisons and prison cells in Ghana and to keep all such prisons and prison cells in a safe, sanitary and habitable state at all times;

7. An order directed at the defendant to make accessible to each person being held in any Ghanaian prison sufficient hygienic toilet and bathroom facilities well demarcated from living areas and to provide a nutritionally balanced diet to each prisoner three times a day under a nutritional scheme monitored and periodically reviewed by a qualified nutritionist;

8. An order directed at the defendant to make clean and safe water available, at all times, to each person being held in any Ghanaian prison for purposes of drinking, bathing, cleaning and other sanitary purposes and to provide each prison in Ghana with an infirmary manned by a sufficient number of certified medical officers and adequately stocked with the necessary medical equipment and medicines for the treatment of sick prisoners;

9. An order directed at the defendant to submit to the Honourable Court, not later than three months from the date of final judgment, a plan of action detailing all the steps, strategies, and measurable targets by which the defendants undertake to obey and perform the orders contained in reliefs (5), (6), (7), and (8);

10. An order directed at the defendant to submit to the Honorable Court, two years from the date of final judgment and thereafter every six months until the expiry of the three-year plan of action, a report particularizing all the steps taken, and targets met in obeying the orders of the Honourable Court contained in reliefs (5), (6), (7), and (8);

11. Any other orders, directions or reliefs the Honourable Court considers just and proper to grant.


Other projects under Justice for All Programme should be instituted – Former AG

Former Attorney General Joe Ghartey has reiterated the need to establish other projects which were launched with the ‘Justice for All Programme.’

He said the Remand Review project, Sentencing policy project, Systems Analysis project and Prosecutors Training projects have been neglected.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Essikado-Ketan thanked the Chief Justice Georgina Wood and others who have played key roles in ensuring the Justice For All programme survived.

The programme which he initiated in 2007 seeks to ensure the speedy trial of remand inmates who have been locked up and forgotten by the justice system and to help decongest the prisons.

He disclosed that the Justice For All programme was launched with two other programmes; Human Right For All and Economic development For All, which have died.

Speaking at a stakeholder meeting Wednesday to review the programme in Accra, Mr Ghartey reiterated the need of establishing the other programmes.

The Remand Review project within the Justice For All programme which has gained prominence is a stop-gap measure to deal with the immediate problem of prison congestion, while the other programmes were supposed to create an environment where prison congestion would be a thing of the past, he said.

“The Sentencing Policy project, for instance, was to address the problem of sentencing and non-custodial sentencing and therefore reduce the number of people who were going to enter into prisons,” he added.


Kenya urged to set pace for region by abolishing the death penalty

By JOSEPH MURAYA, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 17 – Kenya has been asked to consider abolishing the death penalty since it is not compatible with the fundamental tenets of human rights, in particular human dignity, the right to life and prohibition of torture or other cruel treatment.

United Nations Resident Coordinator in Kenya Siddharth Chatterjee said if the death penalty is abolished here, the rest of Africa is likely to follow suit.

“To us, Kenya is a beacon of hope in a state of fragility we have seen in the neighbourhood. We need a Kenya which is actually the paradigm of human rights, the paradigm of mercy, inclusion and above all the paradigm of equality where women and child rights are respected. This is where it is actually happening. The change is happening in Kenya,” he stated.

“Whatever happens here it is going to have a ripple effect to the neighbouring States too.”

He applauded President Uhuru Kenyatta over his recent move to commute all death sentences in the country to life in jail, terming it as a good move.

Some 2,747 death row convicts are now serving life imprisonment following President Kenyatta’s directive.

This includes 2,655 male convicts and 92 female convicts who will be removed from death row to serve life sentences.

The last commutation of death sentences to life imprisonment was done in 2009 by then President Mwai Kibaki.

“Considerable progress has been made towards the universal abolition of the death penalty in recent years. Currently, around 170 member States of the United Nations have either abolished the death penalty or no longer practice it,” Chatterjee said. “Most recently, seven States abolished death penalty for all crimes.”

He quoted recent remarks by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon who had said “I remain convinced that there is no place for the death penalty in the twenty-first century.”

“We welcome the fact that despite the fact that Kenya has the death penalty in its law books, it has not carried out any execution around three decades,” he said.

The last execution in Kenya was carried out in 1987.

“We hope that the Government of Kenya will respond to the call of the Secretary General and take further steps to move from the current de facto moratorium towards the full abolition,” he appealed.

He said Kenya should ride on the recent mass commutation and work towards establishing an official moratorium on the death penalty, aiming at its full abolition for all crimes.

Chatterjee further cited a recent report at the UN General Assembly that proves that there is no evidence that “the death penalty deters crime more than other forms of punishment.”

“It is not the severity of punishment that deters wrongdoers but its certainty.”

To curb crime, the UN has recommended that the focus should be channelled towards the justice system by ensuring it complies with the international human rights law.

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Kagwiria Mbogori on her part says the death penalty must be abolished since the Kenyan justice system is still ridden with corruption and ineffectiveness that leaves innocent suspects vulnerable.

They were speaking during the commencement of a two-day experts’ workshop on assessing public attitude on the death penalty in Kenya on Thursday.

“The death penalty has a severe physical and psychological impact on inmates and their families possibly amounting to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under international law,” she said.

According to Mbogori, it was even more expensive to maintain inmates on death row, “since most governments are reluctant to execute death row inmates.”

Justice for All Programmes needs a complete overhaul –Chief Justice


Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood has said the Justice For All programme needs a complete overhaul to ensure its effectiveness.

At the first stakeholders’ workshop since the inception of the program, she revealed, though it has saved lots of persons from unduly lavishing in jail and saved the government purse, is fraught with difficulties that impede its success.

Read her statement below


My Lord Chair;

Justices of the Court of Appeal and the High Court;

Honourable Attorney General and Minister for Justice,

Representatives from the Police Service, the Prisons Service and other stakeholders here present,

Members of the Ghana Bar Association,

Representatives of Civil Society,

Development Partners,

The Media,

Distinguished Invited Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is an honour for me to deliver this address this workshop on the Justice for All Programme, a programme which was initiated by the then Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, in collaboration with the Judicial Service, the Police and Prison Services.

I was privileged to be present at its maiden sitting, which was held at the James Fort Prison, on 27th September 2007. It was hugely successful and as I speak, I do recollect the joy on the faces of those beneficiaries at the time.

As we all know, the Justice for all programme is a special in-prison court sitting on remand prisoners, prisoners whose trials are unreasonably delayed. On all accounts, the programme constitutes a key component of the rule of law, access to justice and the sustained promotion and protection of the human rights of prisoners –both remand prisoners and convicted prisoners and of course their handlers, that is officials of the Prisons Service, and by extension the families of these persons that I have identified.

This workshop, on the theme: “Justice for All: Strengths, Weaknesses and the Way Forward”, which stands to provide opportunity for introspection; with a view to strengthening our criminal justice system is definitely timely. I commend the two Justices at the helm of affairs of this programme, namely, Mr. Justice CJ Honyenugah, a Justice of the Court of Appeal and his Deputy, Mr. Justice Hometowu of the High Court, Nsawam Prison for their untiring effort in ensuring its continuing success. Their commitment and dedication to duty, have brought not only hope and relief but JUSTICE to many. So we thank them. All stakeholders’ determination to work even harder to strengthen the criminal justice system through this medium also merits special mention.

A well-known constitutional legal principle, relevant to this workshop is that an accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The pertinent provision, Article 14(4) of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana provides as follows:

“Where a person arrested, restricted or detained under paragraph (a) or (b) of clause (3) of this article is not tried within a reasonable time, then, without prejudice to any further proceedings that may be brought against him, he shall be released either unconditionally or upon reasonable conditions, including in particular, conditions reasonably necessary to ensure that he appears at a later date for trial or for proceedings preliminary to trial”

Understandably, the existing constitutional and other legal texts do not provide a contextual definition of the legal term “reasonable time”. Some have argued that the absence of a statutory definition for the expression “reasonable time”, has contributed to the general inordinate delays in the trial of remand prisoners. It is a contention I find implausible, given that the decisional law is so sufficiently clear and strong that any judge or magistrate who is desirous of ensuring justice is met in any given case, would not hide behind this argument to perpetrate injustice.

Admittedly, over the years the Justice for All programmes has sought to remedy some of these acts of gross miscarriage of justice, but something more fundamental, something more far-reaching, needs to be done. The system is crying for a radical overhaul in terms of the procedural law in particular, and the sanctions to be applied following conviction. O

ne such important statutory intervention would definitely help bring sanity into the criminal justice system and therefore ease the congestion in the prisons. I refer to the issue of non-adoption of proceedings in partly-heard criminal cases. I propose the adoption of proceedings in partly heard criminal cases as is the case in civil cases, if not on a wholesale basis for all offences, certainly in relation to a large number of criminal cases which are heard in the lower courts. I have no doubt that trials de novo are clearly disadvantageous to stakeholder participation in the criminal justice delivery system.

My Lord Chairman, the Justice For All programme, which has evolved over the years has been through a number of structural changes. The process has been structured to address nagging the problem of accused persons who are held in pre-trial detention for long periods, often on expired warrants.

The process through which cases are selected for these special court sittings is quite robust. This process is well-structured and transparent and hence cannot be manipulated or compromised to a large extent. I would propose that we come out with a manual or handbook on which the programme would operate.

The official remand list from specific prisons, which is obtained from the Prison Headquarters, is vetted by the Remand Review Task Force, made up of the four key institutions (AG, Judiciary, Police, and Prisons) in accordance with laid down selection criteria for each category of offence.

The approved list from the Remand Review Task Force is then submitted to the Defence team for remand prisoners (made up of lawyers and paralegals), to enable them to interview the selected remand prisoners and draft applications/motions for them.

The motions are appropriately filed at the Registry of the Regional High Court, for service on the concerned staff of the AG and the Judges, prior to the court sitting. Copies of these motions or applications are also kept for record purposes and for future reference.

My Lord Chairman, there is one matter of grave concern I would like to address briefly. Media reports suggest that some members of the public see the Justice for All Programme as a vehicle for releasing suspected criminals on to the streets.

I find this situation rather disturbing and unfortunate because the Justice for All Courts is courts of competent jurisdiction that follows due process. The determinations made by these courts must be respected by all, including investigators who fail to enforce them by their failure to enforce decisions on bail, in particular, granted by these courts.

We must bear in mind that the Justice for All Programme is beneficial to the vulnerable and poor, who find themselves in detention, for one reason or the other, and who are unable to afford the legal fees and so for some them they self-represent or remain unrepresented.

Nonetheless, their rights at law must be protected. We have a collective duty to ensure their rights are fully respected. They are deemed innocent until proven guilty.

Have we thought of those who end up being proven NOT GUILTY after trial? How do we compensate them for their, financial, psychological, emotional and sometimes physical harm arising from wrongful pre-trial incarceration?

I will, therefore, entreat the media to be circumspect in their reportage by ensuring that stories are verified before publication in order not to undermine the rule of law.

To the contrary, I would entreat the media to educate the public fully on what this programme seeks to achieve so as to enhance public trust and confidence in the justice system. This is the way to build strong and lasting institutions.

The Justice for All Programme is a unique model in Africa, where legal aid Pro Bono services are virtually non-existent. Through it, we take justice to the marginalised and unrepresented remand prisoner.

My Lord Chair, available statistics indicates that since the inception of the programme in 2007, out of a total of three thousand, two hundred and ninety-three (3,293) inmates who have appeared before the Justice for All courts, six hundred and two (672) were discharged, nine hundred and eighty-five (985) were granted bail and one hundred and thirty-five (135) were convicted.

Other applicants who have had their applications rejected had their expired warrants renewed to enable them to appear before the various trial courts for the commencement of their trials.

Others have also referred to psychiatric hospital for medical examination and treatment. As a result, “locked and forgotten” remand prisoners are no longer in existence. This will continue to be the situation for as long as the Justice for All programme lives. Let me also add that the Programme has saved millions of public funds in terms of the feeding grant of GHC180.00 the government spends on a prisoner daily.

This achievement is undoubtedly the result of the cooperation of all the stakeholders within the criminal justice system but more importantly, as a result of funding received from international bodies such as DANIDA, UNDP, USAID, Star Ghana, DFID/ the British High Commission and the European Union, just to mention a few.

I also wish to commend NGOs such as Churchill, POS Foundation, HelpLaw, the GIMPA Law Faculty and some public spirited individual Lawyers for their indefatigable contribution towards the sustenance of the programme. In the absence of these NGOs, most remand prisoners would have continued to languish in the various prison facilities nationwide.

My Lord Chair, permit me to mention that the detention conditions prevailing in the country’s prisons are deplorable and an affront to human dignity. Health conditions, characterised by a plethora of communicable diseases, inadequate ventilation, poor sanitation, poor food and many others, as portrayed by the two documentaries (“Locked and Forgotten” and “Left to Rot”) produced by Seth Kwame Boateng of JoyFM in March 2015 and June 2016 is the clearest testimony to these.

The Judiciary is committed to ensuring that the programme serves the justice needs of our people positively. From our records, especially, judging from the monthly returns on remand prisoners, I can say, with conviction and certainty that the remand population has reduced, thanks to the programme. The time has now come for us to do more as we await that glorious day when other interventions, would bring the situation under strict control.


I wish to congratulate all of you here present for your contributions to the success of the Justice for All Programme on the achievement chalked so far and highly commend your efforts. I encourage you to use this workshop as a forum to identify the strengths, weaknesses, and the way forward, bearing in mind plans for its continuity, sustainability, and maximum impact.

I wish you a successful deliberation.

Thank you.

‘You will breach law if you attack back’

The police administration has entreated the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) to abandon its decision to retaliate alleged attacks by New Patriotic Party (NPP) supporters on its members.

Police PRO, Superintendent Cephas Arthur in an interview with Francis Abban, host of The Pulse programme on the JOYNEWS channel on MultiTV Thursday said NDC members who attack persons who harm them would be infringing on the law.

Post-election reports in the media are replete with stories of attacks by some New Patriotic Party (NPP) supporters on NDC members.

NDC leadership has served warnings to the NPP to call its members to order.

At a news conference in Accra, NDC National Chairman, Kofi Portuphy said the attacks are becoming too many in the country.

He listed attacks on the Brazilian contractors and workers who are working on the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange and the killing of an NDC supporters in Dunkwa-on-Offin in the Central Region to stress his point.

The alleged attack on a popular actor, Wofa K. courted his attention although the story has been described as fictitious.

A visit by JOYNEWS revealed the actor had staged it.

Mr Portuphy said after January 7 when President-Elect, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo would be inaugurated, the NDC would not treat as lightly attacks on its members.

NDC National Organiser, Kofi Adams defended the decision of the party’s chairman.

Speaking to Evans Mensah, host of Joy FM’s Top Story programme Thursday, he said although the police are doing their best, it is not enough.

“If someone is holding a stick and heading to your direction will you allow him to strike you with it?” he asked, adding the best action would be to react.

But the police say it is in charge of the situation. Superintendent Arthur said the police have arrested eight persons since the alleged violence started.

“We are on cases like what happened in the Brong Ahafo where some people burnt down toll Booth. Some of them have been granted bail after they were arrested,” he said.

Christian Council General Secretary, Reverend Opuni Frimpong charged political actors to restrain their supporters in the country.

“We’ve reached a point where politicians and political parties must know that democracy thrives on law abiding citizens.”

He said the Council would raise the alleged rampant attacks ongoing in the country in the media urging the police to arrest persons found committing the act.

“It is a criminal issue,” he said, adding the Council expects the NPP to condemn alleged vandalism carried out by its supporters at Dunkwa-on-Offin.