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General News of Saturday, 26 February 2022


Non-violent drug user prisoners deserve amnesty – Justice For All facilitators appeal

File photo: Some prisoners at the Nsawam Prisons File photo: Some prisoners at the Nsawam Prisons

The main facilitators of the Justice for All Programme, the POS Foundation are calling on government to grant amnesty to non-violent drug users who are serving various jail terms for the use of narcotics in order to decongest the country’s prisons.

Executive Director of the Foundation, Mr. Jonathan Osei Owusu made the appeal when they presented some Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the Ho Central Prisons to support the fight against Covid-19 at the facility.

Originally built to accommodate 150 inmates, the Ho Central Prisons currently holds some 450 inmates -a number which further highlights the inadequacies and challenges that confront Ghana’s prisons.

Though none of the prisons has recorded a single case of Covid-19 since the outbreak, the Executive Director of the POS Foundation said granting amnesty to non-violent drug users, who he believes pose no danger to society would not only help in reducing the numbers at the prisons but would further aid in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said, “You know Ghana’s prisons are overcrowded -something we all know about. As Covid-19 came about, the President through his perogative granted amnesty. We are calling on the President again to use his perogative to grant amnesty to more prisoners, particularly, petty offenders.”

“Again the criteria for granting amnesty does not include non-violent drug users -somebody has been to prison because of a roll of marijuna, these are non-violent drug users who may be under peer influence or pressure from work. They pose no danger to society and so we are urging the President to grant these people amnesty in order to decongest the prisons,” he added.

Mr. Jonathan Osei Owusu intimated that the case of such non-violent drug users should be treated more as a public health and human right issues.

He also revealed that the introduction of the virtual court sittings which forms part of the Justice for All Programme has made some very significant impact on justice delivery in the country.

The Volta Regional Commander of the Ghana Prisons Service, ADP Martin Darku noted that the fight against Covid-19 at the Ho Central Prison has not been very easy given the congestion at the facility.

He used the opportunity to appeal to the judicial service and the POS Foundation to ensure that the virtual court sitting is extended to the Ho Central Prisons.

“We do know that POS Foundation is championing the Justice for All Programme and so we want to use this opportunity to appeal to them and the judicial service to ensure that the virtual court sittings be extended to the Ho Central prisons; that will help prisoners on remand to get justice.”

Management of the prisons further appealed to the public to support them with beds, medical supplies and equipment towards the effective operationalization of the facility’s infirmary which has since been upgraded into a health center.

The foundation made donations of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which include nose masks, gallons of sanitizer, Veronica Buckets, detergents, toiletries and medical supplies.