Deal For Remand Prisoners Coming

A section of the participants at the conference

The sordid state of remand prisoners in the country will soon see a significant change with the announcement of interventions that would see majority of remand cases being heard and innocent remand prisoners freed.

Key among the interventions is the decision by the General Legal Council to dedicate the month of April and May 2015 for the hearing of remand cases.

The Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Georgina Theodora Wood, who announced this at the Bar, Bench and Faculty conference, said six circuit courts had been selected to carry out this national assignment.

‘We will definitely extend the period if the need arises,’ she assured.

Georgina Theodora Wood, who also doubles as the chairperson for the General Legal Council, said the necessary notices relating to the venues and hearing dates would be issued to the appropriate authorities.

‘We urge all members of the legal fraternity, particularly lawyers in private practice, to lend their fullest support in this endeavour,’ she appealed.

This action from the head of the judiciary was necessitated by a documentary produced by a local media house which highlighted the gory scenes at remand prisons and the need for a collective action to be taken urgently.

She said it is generally thought that judges are to blame for the menace because they are the people who issue the orders and are ultimately responsible for ensuring the expeditious release of the innocent among them, stressing that lawyers and prosecutors could hardly escape legitimate blame.

She indicated that when lawyers and prosecutors continuously seek adjournment they provide the platform for people to be put into remand, adding that the lack of the public defendant system in Ghana represents probably the leading cause of the situation in the prisons – which are supposed to be correctional facilities.

‘Given the urgency of the matter at hand, it is not the time for blame shifting; it is a big shame, given our love for democracy, pride of place in society and our role as agents of change,’ she observed.

The Chief Justice therefore, urged the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) to as a matter of urgency put in place mechanisms to encourage and promote more pro bono work.

‘The General Legal Council will be happy to collaborate with the GBA in ensuring the effectiveness of such endeavour,’ she said.

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri

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