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General News of Thursday, 27 August 2020

Source: Human Rights and Governance Centre

Monitor implementation of new 48-hours Supreme Court decision – Martin Kpebu

Mr. Martin Kpebu, is the director at the Human Rights and Governance Centre Mr. Martin Kpebu, is the director at the Human Rights and Governance Centre

Mr. Martin Kpebu, a renowned private legal practitioner and a director at the Human Rights and Governance Centre, has called on all Ghanaians to monitor the implementation of the ‘weekends and holidays court decision’ (new 48 hours judgment) that, ‘counting the 48 hours for detaining suspects now includes weekends, public holidays as well as periods of strikes and civil unrests (where the safety of Judges, Magistrates, Court staff and court users can be guaranteed)’.

The key decision made by the Court on 18th December, 2019 was that ‘a person must not be deprived of his or her personal liberty for more than 48 hours, unless such a person had been brought before a court of competent jurisdiction, whether charged or not and the issue of his personal liberty determined (that is granted bail or remanded in custody till the next court date).

The landmark decision by the Apex Court of Ghana followed a law suit by Mr Martin Kpebu against the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General praying the Court to declare as unconstitutional, parts of the Public Holidays Act (Act 601) and the Labour Act that barred the courts from dealing with bail cases during weekends and public holidays.

In an interview with Ghanaweb, Mr Kpebu noted that for years, the ‘48-hours rule’ was abused by rogue police and some ‘powerful citizens’ against those detained, sometimes, just to ‘show suspects where power lies’, with no regards to the law or the rights of these citizens. He was optimistic that “the implementation of the judgment will expand “access to justice for all” in line with SDG#16 which has a target on rule of law and access to justice. Access to justice is an important accelerator for progress across the entire Agenda 2030 which seeks to “Leave No One Behind”.

Mr. Kpebu is reminding Ghanaians that the Chief Justice (CJ) of Ghana is committed to effective implementation of the ‘new 48-hours’ Supreme Court decision which has started. The CJ started the implementation by issuing a directive to selected courts, Justices, Judges, Magistrates as well as Court Registrars all over Ghana to sit at weekends, holidays and period of strikes and civil unrests to hear bail applications of accused persons and suspects brought before them by the police.

He stressed that citizens’ monitoring will promote compliance by the Police and the Courts and ensure citizens’ access to justice which is imperative for sustaining Ghana’s democratic stability before and after Elections 2020. Ultimately, it will increase responsiveness to challenges citizens face in their quest to access justice and human rights in Ghana.