You are here: HomeNews2021 06 25Article 1294720

Regional News of Friday, 25 June 2021

Source: Sefakor Fekpe, Contributor

Ashaiman Municipal Assembly welcomes advocacy on non-custodial sentencing

Executive Director, CCF, Ibrahim Oppong Kwarteng Executive Director, CCF, Ibrahim Oppong Kwarteng

The Crime Check Foundation (CCF) has taken its series of sensitization programs on decriminalizing vagrancy laws to the Ashaiman Municipal Assembly.

The participants who were selected from 15 electoral areas were made of traders’ unions, waste collectors, petty traders, truck pushers, landlords, unit committee members among others.

In a short address, the Executive Director of the CCF, Ibrahim Oppong Kwarteng stated that the Decriminalization of Vagrancy Law Advocacy project was birthed due to the draconian District Assemblies bylaws, which usually bite poor people harder by sending them to prison.

Mr. Kwarteng however, advised the participants against challenging the authority of the assembly by deliberately flouting its bylaws.

“We are here to teach you about your rights, what the assemblies need to do is to better your lives but also ensure that you have a role to play in the development of your community; you must obey the bylaws and comply with the assembly,” he added.

Mr. Oppong Kwarteng also stated emphatically that the DVLA program is not meant to incite vagrants against the assembly but to make them aware of their rights and responsibilities for national development.

Meanwhile, a lecturer at University Education, Winneba, Dr. George Asekere appealed to the assembly to live up to their responsibilities by providing the citizens with basic needs to improve their economic activities.

“The assembly has the mandate to provide marketplaces for traders, proper drainage systems, dustbins, and many other things but the assemblies fail to fulfill their responsibilities fully and rather punish vagrants for flouting the bylaws," he stated.

Dr. Asekere further called on the assembly to make reforms in their bylaws to include non-custodial sentencing.

The MMDAs pass by-laws such as fines and penalties which these vagrants are unable to pay and eventually end up in prison.

A vagrant is a person who is homeless and with no regular work thereby moving from one place to other. They usually make a living from begging or hawking on the streets.

The CCF and OSIWA through the Decriminalizing Vagrancy Laws And Advocacy (DVLA) are pushing for a non-custodial form of sentencing or community service to decongest Ghana's choked prisons while educating the migrants on their rights.

The vagrants while raising concerns about some pressing issues in their communities called on the assemblies to construct drains, public toilet facilities at market centers, waste bins, and clamp down on excessive noisemaking in the various electoral areas in the Ashaiman Municipality.

Meanwhile, an officer from the environmental health department of the Ashaiman Municipal Assembly, Busby Asiedu expressed gratitude to the Crime Check Foundation and Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) for initiating the project.

He added that the sensitization program is should be extended to the various electoral areas.

The first sensitization program for vagrants was held at the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA).

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.

Monitoring and Evaluation

To monitor the progress and effectiveness of the project, a contact center 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.

Join our Newsletter