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Crime & Punishment of Saturday, 19 June 2021

Source: Sefakor Fekpe, Contributor

100 people sensitized on decriminalization of vagrancy laws

The project will run from May 2021 to May 2022 The project will run from May 2021 to May 2022

Some 100 people have been taken through vagrancy laws in Accra and the need to amend and decriminalize such laws.

The participants who were selected from 25 electoral areas in the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) attended the workshop put together by the Crime Check Foundation under a project dubbed; Decriminalization Of Vagrancy Laws And Advocacy (DVLA).

The participants were made up of head porters, traders unions, truck pushers, waste managers, property owners, hairdressers and local assembly members.

The project is birthed due to the increasing rate of how these poor people are thrown into prison because of these by-laws.

An official at the Social Welfare Department of the AMA, Florence Kunchi took the participants through the various laid down by-laws and the need to comply with them to avoid being jailed.

A private legal practitioner, Nii Ayi Bontey in a short speech at the workshop on Thursday, June 17, 2021, recounted the horrible and inhumane conditions of Ghana's prisons and cautioned the participants to comply with the laws while stakeholders fight for amendments.

“Avoid crime because crime will destroy your family, career, and your life, he advised.

He further called for community workshops just as the one CCF and OSIWA are doing to get a lot of people to understand these by-laws.

Meanwhile, the vagrants who were present at the workshop appealed for the provision of basic logistics to equip assembly members in their localities to work effectively.

"The cost involved in indiscriminate disposable of waste is grave. It's better the assemblies provide the poor communities with free waste collecting trucks and also amend by-laws to get petty offenders into farming rather than throwing them into jail which comes at another cost for the country, one participant," George Ade Marfo, requested.

The Decriminalization Vagrancy Laws And Advocacy is a 12 months project being implemented by the crime prevention organization, Crime Check Foundation (CCF) and funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

Project Timeline

The one-year project will be rolled out in 12 metropolitan assemblies in three regions: Greater Accra, Ashanti, and Central.

“We have begun with the mapping, and we are engaging with the various district assemblies in the selected regions and the leadership of vagrants”.

The project will sensitize 1200 vagrants about their rights and responsibilities to prevent any misunderstandings with the assemblies.

“In order not to seem as we are inciting vagrants against the district assemblies and the central government, we will also educate them about their duties as patriotic citizens,” Executive Director of Crime Check Foundation, Ibrahim Oppong Kwarteng said.

Monitoring and Evaluation

To monitor the progress and effectiveness of the project, a contact centre will be created after the sensitization to address the concerns of vagrants at the partnering organization, Crime Check Foundation.

The project will run from May 2021 to May 2022.

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