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General News of Monday, 21 June 2021


The law will favour the privileged if Ghanaians are not empowered – Prof Atuguba

Prof Raymond Atuguba Prof Raymond Atuguba

• Raymond Atuguba says the government should restructure Ghana's legal aid mechanism

• He said only 10% can pay to access legal representation

• He noted if not addressed, the rich will always be privileged

Prof Raymond Atuguba, the Dean of the University of Ghana School of Law has bemoaned that, Ghanaian citizens need to be empowered legally else the laws of the state will continue to favour the rich and privileged in the society.

Speaking on JoyNews’ ‘The Law’ show, Prof Atuguba noted that, there is a lack of empowerment in the country because “those who have less money, less privilege, fewer connections, cannot access the best of legal services to make the law serve them”.

“It’s been a big problem in many third world countries,” he added.

Prof Raymond Atuguba explained, “ordinary people who ordinarily don’t have those resources for legal intervention by themselves, with the help of cheaper or even volunteer paralegals, will be able to make the law work for them.

“That unless we empower the bulk of Ghanaians legally, we can’t solve that problem where the law seems to be working just for the privileged and not for the underprivileged.”

He indicated that Ghana as a state needs to revise its legal aid implementation mechanism because the current legal aid is ineffective and does not respond to Ghana's socio-economic and political issues.

He said, in most developed countries, there are a few people who cannot pay for legal services but the situation differs when it comes to Ghana because only 10% of the total population in Ghana can pay for effective super-legal services while 90% cannot pay.

“In other words, most of the society earn an income that makes them capable of accessing and paying for legal services and then a smaller percentage in that country do not have access to legal aid and then the state provides.

So, for example, 90% can pay and then the state provides for the 10%. The mistake we’ve often made is to pick that model and then apply it to a place like Ghana, where the table is turned.

“The table is turned because 10% can pay for effective super-legal services in Ghana, and 90% cannot pay. That is a recipe for failure. It just will not work,” Prof Atuguba said.

He continued: “It has not worked since independence, and it will not work. For communities and societies such as ours, you have to implement strategies for legal empowerment in order to get out of the conundrum.

Because there is no way the state can pay for legal services of lawyers for 90% of the population.”