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Group Petitions A-G Over ‘Bogus’ Laws

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The Criminal Justice Reform Association (CJRA) has petitioned the Attorney-General and the Minister of Justice Ms. Gloria Akuffo over what it describes as outmoded and archaic criminal justice system.

According to the group, Ghana’s criminal justice system with very few exceptions is governed by laws based on very old legal principles and public policy conversations.

CJRA in a 22-page petition to the A-G while commending the government for the establishment of the Office of the Independent Prosecutor wants the Department to reform the laws which had largely been relics of Ghana’s colonial masters.

Mina Mensah, the Regional Coordinator for the Africa Office of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative said the country ought to be on the same page with current trends in respect of its laws.

She was optimistic the petition would assist in the efforts aimed at sanitizing the criminal laws of the country.

Receiving the petition on behalf of the A-G, Deputy A-G, Godfred Yeboah Dame said the issue of criminal justice reform has actually engaged the attention of the A-G for quite a long time.

In his view, the Department “considers it as central to the development of the nation in the sense that it has far reaching implications for the rule of law, accountability and the fight against corruption”.

He said in 2012, the results of the Baseline Survey conducted to determine public perception on criminal justice delivery in the country was that there was actually reduced functionality in the criminal justice system which led to delayed delivery of justice as well as limited accessibility to justice.

The Deputy AG noted that as a result of the Survey, there has been an effort by the Judicial Service together with the A-G to initiate processes for the reforms.

The efforts of CJRA Mr. Dame noted run very well into the programm that is already in place between the A-G and the Judicial Service.

“We consider this effort as a step in the right direction, very good and noble…We will study the recommendations and see how best we can bring it to play in terms of what efforts are being made by the Department and the Judicial Service to reform criminal justice delivery in the country”, he assured.

Private legal practitioner and convener of the group Mr. Martin Kpebu later in a news conference argued that Ghana’s criminal laws are “grossly outdated”.

He said Ghana’s current criminal laws date back to 1876 adding that the country has retrogressed.

CJRA nonetheless wants the A-G and its allied agencies to withdraw the prosecutorial duties of the Ghana Police Service, reform of the rules governing disclosure in criminal trials; reforms at the prisons, court reforms among others.

By: Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson/ thePublisher

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