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General News of Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Source: The Herald

AI whips CJ

*Over Justice for All Programme *

The Justice for All Programme initiated in 2007 by the Ministry of Justice and the Judiciary Service to speed up the trials of people remanded in prison custody has had no significant impact, the Amnesty International Report 2010 has revealed.

The programme is spearheaded by the Judicial Service with the support of the Attorney General's Department, the Police Service, the Prison Service, and the Ghana Bar Association.

As part of the programme, selected courts were moved to some prisons and cases of remand prisoners that have been pending for a while were heard.

The project, sponsored by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is expected to see a review at the end of the 2009/10 legal year.

According to the report which The Herald has a copy, prison conditions remained poor with inmates forced to sleep in turns as a result of insufficient bedding hence some prisoners sleep on bare floors aside having to deal with poor medical and sanitary facilities.

The report noted that prisons capacity for about 8,000 prisoners were holding approximately 13,000, about 30 per cent of whom are on remand.

It said seven people were sentenced to death in the year under review, bringing the number of prisoners on death row to 99, including two women. 14 death sentences, the report revealed, were commuted to life imprisonment but there were no executions.

It observed that the police often failed to bring suspects before court within a reasonable time.

Violence against women and girls, the report observed, continued to be widespread, with violence in the family thought to affect one in three women. According to the police Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit, reported cases of violence against women and girls increased in the year under review.

The Amnesty International is a global movement of 2.8 million supporters, members and activists who campaign for internationally recognized human rights to be respected and protected. Its vision is for every person to enjoy all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.

It said that threats of and actual evictions, particularly of marginalized people continued in Ghana. Last October, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) demolished structures along the railway near Graphic Road and some others within the slum known as Abuja, living hundreds of people homeless.

Under the topic “Right to adequate housing – forced eviction,” Amnesty International noted that the forced eviction deprived families of their homes and usually their livelihood because according to the report, residents who had been living and working in structures said they not consulted about the eviction, nor offered any compensation or adequate alternative housing.

Additionally, thousands of people living in Agbogbloshie and Old Fadama settlement in Accra repeatedly came under threat of forced eviction from the AMA without any plan to relocate or compensate the evictees.

It said that in November last year, though the government indicated that people facing eviction in Old Fadama would be relocated, no further news was heard although some of the residents have lived in the affected communities for 30 years.