Regional News of Thursday, 2 August 2012

Source: GNA

“Justice for all programe” has been beneficial – Graham

Mr. Kojo Graham, Executive Director of Centre for Human Rights and Civil Liberties (CHURCIL), on Wednesday observed that the 'Justice for all Programme' has been useful in enhancing justice delivery in the country.

He said despite the fact that few of the prisoners who had benefited from the programme returned to commit other crimes, it did not take away the immense benefit of the programme to many remand prisoners.

Mr. Graham made the observation in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at the 'Justice for all Programme' at the Nsawam Medium Security Prison at Nsawam in the Eastern Region.

The programme, which started in 2007, is aimed at ensuring that persons on remand for five years and above without trial were taken through the court process and given a fair hearing.

At the Nsawam Prison, out of the 70 remand prisoners who were brought to the court for hearing, 23 of them were discharged, 32 were given bail, five cases were adjourned to Thursday, August 2, and nine cases were refused because they did not qualify under the programme.

However, one person was referred to the Psychiatric hospital for treatment.

Mr. Graham said the number of remand prisons who had gone on to live successful lives as a result of the programme far outweighed those who had returned to crime.

He said the challenges posed by the administration of justice indicated that there was implicit recognition that it should undergo some reform to ensure good justice delivery system.

Mr. Graham said currently, there was no system to reform the prisons and ensure that inmates after serving their terms did not return to their old ways.

He said the process of sanctioning and punishing accused persons should not end with their incarceration but rather the processes which were put in place to ensure proper transformation of the prisoner.

Mr. Graham said the State had a responsibility to ensure that the Department of Social Welfare put in place measures to ensure better transformation of the inmates.

He said tax and other incentives could be given to companies willing to support government to provide skills and other benefits to prisoners discharged from prison to prevent them from re-engaging other in criminal acts.**