Accra, March 31, GNA
- Rev. Dr. Stephen Wengam, Presidemt of the Prisons Council, has commended Mrs
Georgina Theodora Wood, the Chief Justice (CJ), for admonishing judges and
magistrates to visit the prisons and have a feel of the living conditions of
A statement issued in Accra and copied to the Ghana News Agency, said Rev Wengam made the commendation when members of the Ghana Prisons Service Council paid a courtesy call on her to deliberate on issues pertaining to the international minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners.
The visit was also to formulate pragmatic measures aimed at de-congesting the various prisons in the country.
He further presented a copy of a documentary on remand prisoners dubbed: “Locked and Forgotten,” and a nationwide report on prison inmates’ overcrowding, to the CJ.
The CJ implored the Council to undertake regular inspection visits to the prisons, and update her office on the conditions.
She emphasized the need for the Police Service to be fully involved in the de-congestion process, as far as the criminal justice system was concerned.
Touching on the “Justice for All” project, Her Ladyship pledged the preparedness of the Judiciary to support and sustain the exercise, by moving the court to prisons at regular periods, to expedite the trial of remand cases, especially those whose cases have delayed.
She expressed the need for judges and legal practitioners to adhere to human rights standards, as remand prisoners are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty by competent courts of jurisdiction.
The CJ declared plans by the Judicial Service to suspend general cases in some selected courts from April to May, to specifically try cases involving remand prisoners.
She explained that the decision formed part of measures to decongest the country’s prisons, owing to the fact that remand prisoners formed a third of the total inmates’ population nationwide.
According to the CJ, a revised manual on United Nations Minimum Standards for the Treatment of Prisoners would soon be introduced to guide judges, magistrates and key stakeholders of the Criminal Justice System, including the Ghana Prisons Service.
The Director-General of Prisons (DGP), Madam Matilda Baffour-Awuah, expressed her heartfelt gratitude to Her Ladyship for her unflinching support to the Ghana Prisons Service.
She gave the assurance that the doors of the Prisons Service were always opened to judges and magistrates who intended to visit any of the 43 prison facilities in the country.
She also praised the CJ for her rapid response after watching a telling documentary on the conditions of prisoners, especially for encouraging judges and magistrates to watch the footage.
Madam Baffour-Awuah acknowledged the Judicial Service for championing the “Justice for All” programme, and described it as an all-important exercise designed to administer justice to helpless remand prisoners.
The DGP hinted that the Prisons Service has established paralegal units in the central Judicial Service to organise intensive training programmes for prison officers who handle legal matters.