8 REMAND PRISONERS FREED UNDER JUSTICE FOR ALL PROGRAM IN 2017

SIX REMAND PRISONERS FREED BY JUSTICE FOR ALL PROJECT AT KOFORIDUA

2016 JUSTICE FOR ALL HEARING BEGINS AT KOFORIDUA LOCAL PRISON

KOFORIDUA: 18 REMAND PRISONERS FREED

KOFORIDUA: 13 REMAND PRISONERS GAIN FREEDOM

16 REMAND PRISONERS FREED, 45 OTHERS GRANTED BAIL

KUMASI: JUSTICE FOR ALL BENEFITS 7 PRISONERS, 53 OTHERS AT KUMASI CENTRAL PRISON

HO (2015) – ONLY ONE REMAND PRISONER UNABLE TO REGAIN FREEDOM – JUSTICE FOR ALL PROGRAM CLARIFIES

HO (2015) – “JUSTICE FOR ALL PROGRAMME” FREES 26 REMAND PRISONERS IN HO

AKUSE (2017) – FOUR REMAND PRISONERS DISCHARGED AT AKUSE PRISON

A total of eighty persons on remand at some prisons across the country were set free under the “Justice For All Program” (JFAP), an initiative meant to decongest the country’s prisons.

Among those who benefited from the program were charged with the offence of possessing narcotic drugs.

In all, 519 remand cases were heard by the Justice For All Program panel as 256 were granted bill and 14 were also convicted and sentenced to prison.

This was revealed by Justice Clemence Honyenuga, an Appeals Court Judge and Chairman of the National Review Taskforce when the team visited the Koforidua Central Prisons, the last place of visit for the year.

Among the eleven places visited include the Winneba Local, Secondi central, Ankarful, Nsawam medium security, Akuse Local, Kpando Local, Ho Central, Sunyani Central, Kumasi Central, Tamale Centraland the Koforidua Central Prisons.

The process for the trial of the suspects was entirely paperless for the first time.

Briefing the media after the exercise, Justice Honyenuga assured the program will continue on till the last remanded prisoner is tried and come out from the prison.

He indicated that some of the suspects charged who were arrested and ought to be charged with the use of such narcotics pleaded guilty to the offence.

The Officer in Charge of the Koforidua Central Prisons, Assistant Director of Prison (ADP) Benedict Bob-Dery said the JFAP had helped reduce the number of inmates at the Koforidua prisons.

He said the Koforidua Prisons is currently made up of more than 650 inmates which is more than the capacity it is expected to admit but said authorities are trying to reduce the number of remands by taking advantage of an initiative such as the Justice For All Program.

Jonathan Osei Owusu, Executive Director of POS Foundation, a Human Right NBGE with the core mandate of promoting Human Right, Youth Development and Social Accountability for his part expressed disappointment the inability of some of the remand prisoners to meet their bail conditions and the refusal of some police investigators to execute the bail as some of the challenges facing the program.

At the two-day sitting in the Koforidua Central Prison led by Mr. Justice Constance Honyenuga heard the cases of 66 remand prisoners.

The remand prisoners were represented by three lawyers who all provided their legal services on a pro-bono basis and the State also for the State led by the Eastern Regional Attorney, Justice Emily Addo Okyere.

The JFAP was established in 2007 to help reduce overcrowding in the country’s system and also provide justice for remand prisoners whose trial had stalled or were yet to commence even though they had spent years in custody.

It is being done under the joint auspices of the Judicial Service, theAttorney-General’s Department, the Ghana Prisons and Police Services as well as Perfector of Sentiment (POS) Foundation.

This year’s event is being funded by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA)

The program involves the setting up of special courts at the prisons where the cases of prisoners whose cases meet the criteria of the program are reviewed.

Ten years since the inception of the Justice for All Program attended to a total remanded case of 3,812 out of which 752 persons were discharged, 1241 were granted bail and 149 others were also sentenced to prison.

Source: David Sackey

https://brytfmonline.com/eighty-remand-prisoners-freed-under-justice-for-all-program-in-2017/

Six remand prisoners were freed and 24 others were granted bail when the National Remand Review Taskforce Special Court under the Justice for All Project sat for two-days at the Koforidua Central Prisons.

Six of the prisoners were convicted, the case of two, were striked off, while the application of 26 were dismissed for lack of merit.

This was disclosed at a media briefing by Justice Clemence Honyenuga, an Appeals Court Judge and Chairman of the National Remand Prisoners Review Taskforce, at the end of sittings of the Special Remand Prisoners Review Court at the Koforidua Central Prisons.

He explained that the sitting of the special court at Koforidua was the last sitting of the Court for the year and the Court would resume sitting next year.

Justice Honyenuga said the special court was able to sit in all the ten regions of the country this year and Eastern Region was the last region.

He said this year is the tenth anniversary of the ‘Justice for All’ programme and for the first time, the Court at its sitting at Koforidua tried the “Paperless Court” procedure where the prosecution, defense and the bench were reading from their lap-top computers.Justice Honyenuga said since the inception of the Justice for All programme in 2007, the special court had reviewed the cases of 3,812 remand prisoners and 752 had been discharged from the prisons.

He said 1,241 of the remand prisoners were granted bail, 149 of them were convicted and sentenced while the rest lack merit.

He used the occasion to thank the staff of the Judicial Service, Attorney General, the Police and Prison Services and the defense counsels for their contribution to make the programme successful.

Mr Jonathan Osei Owusu, Chief Executive of POS Foundation, a civil society organization that focus on human rights and promoters of the Justice for All project, appealed for more resources to help improve conditions at the prisons.

He said at the inception of the Justice for All project, over 30 per cent of the total prison population in the country were remand prisoners which worsen the congestion at the prisons.

He said with the introduction of the project, currently thepopulation of remand prisoners in the prisons had reduced to about 13 per cent of the total population of prisoners in the country.

Source: GNA http://www.adomonline.com/ghana-news/six-remand-prisoners-freed-justice-project-koforidua/

The 2016 Justice for All Hearing started on 18th March, 2016 at the Koforidua local prison.

In all, 70 cases were considered by Justice C. J Hoenyenugah, Justice C. Hometorwu, Justice R. M Kogyapwah and Judge Cynthia Wiredu.

The overall statistics shows that 4 beneficiaries were discharged including Abdulai Mohamadu who has been on remand for 10 years without trial, 24 were granted bail, 28 were referred to Psychiatric homes and hospitals for treatment, 7 were convicted and sentenced and 7 applications were refused.

Francis-Xavier Kojo Sosu, Dollah D.B Djaba-Mensah, Nanabayin Simpson and Andrew Nyarko-Adu were defence counsels for all the accused persons.

The Justice for All Programme, fundedby the UK government’s Department for InternationalDevelopment(DFID), supports reform of the justice sector.

The programme focuses on building the capacity, accountability and responsiveness of key policing justice and anti-corruption institutions and supporting them to work together, alongside civil society and oversight institutions, as part of a coherent, coordinated sector.

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.

http://banewsgh.com/2016-justice-programme-begins/15572

Eighteen remand prisoners kept in custody for years have been freed under a justice for all programme reactivated as a result of Joy News Documentary “Locked and Forgotten.”

Two High Court Judges Clemence Honyenuga, who is also chairman of the Justice for all programme, and another member of the programme Constance Hometowu pitched camp at the Koforidua prisons, Friday, to revisit forgotten cases of remand prisoners.

Joy News’ Seth Kwame Boateng who championed the documentary reported that the freed prisoners were accused of various offences including narcotics.

Sitting like a court in the prisons, Judges Honyenuga and Hometowu acquitted and discharged some of the suspects, others were freed but with some conditions.

Some of the suspects had spent between three to five years on remand for crimes that would probably take a little less custodial sentence.

The common charges against the remand prisoners included theft, defrauding by false pretense, possession of narcotic drugs and murder.

A High court judge said he convicted about 31 but they would soon go home because their sentence covered the period of their detention.

The judges will then move to other prisons across the country after Friday’s sittings.

The Justice for all programme introduced around 2008 to decongest the country’s prisons was suspended following reports that some of the suspects who were released under the programme went back to commit other criminal offences.

But the chilling reports in Joy FM’s documentary about the inhumane conditions in the country’s prisons have led the judiciary to revisit its stance on remand prisoners and the justice for all programme.

The Chief Justice Mrs Georgina Wood has tasked all stakeholders in the judiciary to work towards restoring sanity in the prisons.

She assembled all judges and showed them documentary in order for them to see the horrifying conditions under which the prisoners were living.

The judges later took turns to visit the prisons across the country to see at first hand the heart wrenching conditions.

The resumption of the justice for all programme is part of many efforts to decongest the prisons.

Source: http://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2015/March-20th/ten-remand-prisoners-freed-more-to-follow.php

Thirteen remanded prisoners at the Koforidua Prisonswere freed by the special court that sat at the prisons under the Justice for All Project.

Fifteen of the remanded prisoners were granted bail, the remand imposed on 13 other prisoners were upheld by the court while three of the remand prisoners were convicted by the courts.

The three special courts were headed by Justice Constant Hometowu, an appeal court judge, Justice Abdallah Iddrisu and Justice Clemence Honyenuga both high court judges who sat for a little over two hours to review the remand cases of 44 persons at the prisons.

Among the prisoners freed included a case where a youngman who was accused of stealing a chicken had been on remand for two years while another who stole snails also had been on remand for six months.

The Justice for All Project is being organised under the Access to Justice for Remand Prisoner IV, 2014 Project which is being organised by the POS Foundation, Human Right Advocacy Centre in partnership with Centre for Law and Development Policy of GIMPA Law School and collaborating with the Judicial Service, Attorney Generals Department, Ghana Police Service and Ghana Prison’s Service with funding from STAR-Ghana, a multi-donor funded organisation.

The Access to Justice Project seeks to alleviate overcrowding at the prisons by setting up special courts to adjudicate on remand prisoners’ cases with the support of the Judicial Service, the Attorney Generals Department, the Police the Prison Service and Ghana Bar Association.

During the hearing of the cases, the remand prisoners were offered free legal representation by Mr Isaac Aidoo and Ms Juliet Dabe Agboh, both private legal practitioners and Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Badu, a lecturer at the GIMPA law School.

This year, the Access to Justice Project had provided the opportunity for cases of 389 remand prisoners in six prisons in the country to be reviewed.

The prisons where the project had organised the special courts include, Winneba, Ankafu, Tarkwa, Sekondi, Kumasi and Koforidua prisons.

Commenting on the project, Mr Jonathan Osei Owusu, Executive Director of POS Foundation explained that, the project helps to resolve the challenges that arise in efforts to control crime and the upholding of the right of accused persons.

He said, in crime control, it is important that due process is followed to avoid abuse of the human rights of the accused persons

Source: Ghanaweb.comhttp://www.hracghana.org/index.php/news/recent-news/item/1080-13-remand-prisoners-gain-freedom

Sixteen (16) remand prisoners at the Kumasi Central Prisons have been freed, and 45 others granted bail under the Justice for All Programme (JFAP).

This was after their applications had been heard by judges in a two-day session held in the prisons. Another 32 had their applications refused, and there were four convictions.

Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, an Appeal Court Judge with responsibility for the JFAP, told journalists that a total of 133 cases were heard.

The cases mostly involved misdemeanor; stealing and other lesser offenses.

The programme, launched a decade ago, is part of the drive to decongest the nation’s overcrowded prisons.

Justice Honyenuga said, mindful of the deplorable conditions at the prisons, steps were also being taken towards the imposition of non-custodial sentences.

He reminded judges and magistrates to avoid throwing people into jail unnecessarily. Prisoners, wanting to take advantage of the JFAP applied through the National Review Taskforce – made up of all stakeholders in the criminal justice system.

People charged with murder, robbery and narcotic offense, and had languished in prison for three or more years without trial, also qualified to apply.

Three judges; Justice Honyenga, Justices Angelina Homiah-Mensah and Constant Hometo, presided over this year’s cases.

Justice Samuel Boakye-Yiadom, Deputy Judicial Secretary, Northern Sector, applauded Commissioner of Police (COP) Ken Yeboah, the Ashanti Regional Commander, and Deputy Director of Prisons (DDP) Nelson Duut, Regional Prisons’ Officer, for assisting to make the session a big success.

Source: GNA

Reference: https://www.dailynewsgh.com/16-remand-prisoners-freed-45- others-granted-bail/

Kumasi Central Prison
Seven remand prisoners at the Kumasi Central Prison have been asked to go home after a special “Justice For All” in-prison court sitting which sort to reduce overcrowding at the Prisons nationwide.


53 others were granted bail, 2 others convicted and imprisoned after the hearing at the Kumasi Central Prison by the Ghana Remand Review Taskforce made up of the Judicial Service together with the Office of the Attorney-General, the Ghana Prisons Service and Ghana Police Service as well as POS Foundation- Civil Society.

The basis for this freedom exercise is tied to Article 14(4) of the 1992 Ghanaian Constitution which declares that “a person who is arrested or detained, but has not received a trial within a ‘reasonable period of time’, is entitled to unconditional release or release subject to conditions necessary for reappearance for judicial proceedings.”

At a press briefing in Kumasi, the Chairman of the Justice For All programme, Justice ClemenceHonyenugaindicated that majority of the cases they sat on were fraud-related cases.

He cautioned the public against people who go about defrauding innocent people of their properties and monies with the pretense of helping them get biggers favors and opportunities.

Justice Honyenugaurges the public to avoid shortcuts and use the right channels and the approved ways for their daily activities and other services to avoid been swindled by scammers.

Jonathan OseiOwusu, the Executive Director of POS Foundation, the facilitator of the Justice For All Programme, said the inmates were discharged as a result of their unjustified lock-up in prison as remand persons usually due to failure by the state to arraign them before the court.

The Commander of the Kumasi Central Prison, Nelson Duut commended the team for their efforts in helping to decongest prisons.

He said the Kumasi Prison which was built with a maximum capacity of 800 now holds over 2000 inmates including convicts, remand prisoners and inmates on trials.

The Justice For All Programme is a state driven and POS Foundation facilitated initiative that seeks to help decongest prisons in Ghana looking at cases of remand prisoners.

The Trigger

The 2007 Prisons Service Annual Report stated that 13,335 prisoners were held in prisons designed to hold approximately one-third of that number.

The Ghana Prisons Service statistics state that the total prison population as at Monday, February 22, 2016, was 14,534. Of that 2,464 were Remand Prisoners or on pre-trial detention, which represents 18.2 percent of the total prison population in Ghana as compared to 31.5 percent in 2007.

It is common for as many as fifty-five inmates to share a cell intended for twelve. Overcrowding contributes to the prevalence of communicable diseases. This is compounded by inadequate medical facilities and the fact that the prisons supply only the most basic medicines.

Challenges

According to POS Foundation, the issue of overcrowded prisons, lengthy pretrial detention remains a serious problem in Ghana.

The Foundation said sometimes detainees serve more time in detention awaiting trial than the actual sentence the crime requires. The report also indicates that pretrial detainees are frequently held with convicted prisoners.

The facilitators indicated that there is, therefore, an urgent need for civil society interventions to address the challenges faced by un-convicted detainees.

The situation which is very much alarming has necessitated this initiative “Justice For All Programme” with collaboration from the above mentioned institutions.
Source: The Publisher
Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Clemence Honyenuga

The Chairman of the Justice for All Program, Justice Clemence Honyenuga says only one remand prisoner is still in the Ho Central prison despite being a beneficiary of the program meant to fast track justice.

He dismissed reports that several others are still in the Ho prison even though the program had granted them bail.

Deputy Director of Prisons in charge of the Ho facility Victor Agbelengor had told Joynews there are still some remand prisoners granted bail in May but are still locked up because they could not meet the bail conditions.

Explaining the situation, Justice Clemence Honyenuga clarified that only Abubakari Seidu was still in prison because he has not been able to get one surety as directed by the judges.

He said Abubakri was charged with murder and has been granted bail with the sum of ₵5,000.

During his hearing when the Justice For All Program visited the prison, Abubakari was directed to report to the police weekly after he regained partial freedom.

“He has been unable to get anybody to stand surety for him” Justice Clemence Honyenuga who is also an appeal court judge he explained.

The Justice For All Program is an intervention to provide remand prisoners access to justice.

It is intended to decongest the prisons and also to free inmates who should not be in prison.

The Program toured prisons across the country to embark on a decongestion exercise after a Joy News documentary by Seth Kwame Boateng revealed appalling conditions of remand prisoners.

The programme was initiated by the Chief Justice in collaboration with the AttorneyGeneral and Minister of Justice to ensure that justice is provided for every citizen, irrespective of one’s background and also to help decongest the prisons.

In all, 71 cases were heard at the Ho Central Prison, with 26 applicants cautioned and discharged.

They were also made to sign a bond to be of good behaviour.

Twenty four prisoners were granted bail, while 21 others were refused bail.

The accused persons had been in prison custody between six months and four years for various crimes, including murder, rape, fraud and illegal possession of drugs.

During the hearings, the charge sheets were amended and bail conditions reviewed to softer terms for the accused persons.

The Ho Central Prisons was originally built to accommodate 160 inmates but it ended up inhabiting 451 inmates thus stretching the facilities in the prisons.

The Ho Prison, established in 1948, was one of the four Prisons in the then Togoland Territory under United Kingdom Trusteeship and was treated as an integral part of the Prisons system of the then Gold Coast.

Reference: http://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2015/august-2nd/only-one-remandprisoner-unable-to-regain-freedom-justice-for-all-program-clarifies.php

Twenty-Six remand prisoners at the Ho Central Prisons in the Volta Region were cautioned and discharged, after two Courts sat on their cases, under the Justice for All Programme.

The programme was initiated by the Chief Justice in collaboration with the AttorneyGeneral and Minister of Justice to ensure that justice is provided for every citizen, irrespective of one’s background and also to help decongest the prisons.

In all, 71 cases were heard, with 26 applicants cautioned and discharged. They were also made to sign a bond to be of good behaviour.

Twenty-four prisoners were granted bail, while 21 others were refused bail. The accused persons had been in prison custody between six months and four years for various crimes, including murder, rape, fraud and illegal possession of drugs.

During the hearings, the charge sheets were amended and bail conditions reviewed to softer terms for the accused persons.

Justice Clemence Honyenuga, a Judge of the Court of Appeal, and the Chairman of the Justice for All Programme, told the Ghana News Agency that a closer look at some of the cases indicated that the charges did not support the offence for which they were arrested.

He also observed that there were a lot of drug-related cases in the Volta and Brong Ahafo Regions and urged the youth to avoid drugs and concentrate on their studies or chosen professions.

He also commended the Judicial Staff, the Ghana Prisons Service and other partners in their efforts to ensure justice delivery.

Ms Ama Ahumata, who told the GNA that she was arrested and charged for attempted murder, a crime she did not commit, said she was excited to be discharged.

The Ho Central Prisons was originally built to accommodate 160 inmates but it ended up inhabiting 451 inmates thus stretching the facilities in the prisons.

The Ho Prison, established in 1948, was one of the four Prisons in the then Togoland Territory under United Kingdom Trusteeship and was treated as an integral part of the Prisons system of the then Gold Coast.

It was established to cater for offenders who were convicted for various offences in the Region; and was classified as a Local Prison and for that matter it kept prisoners serving sentences of less than two years only.

The prison was upgraded to a Central Prison when the Ghana Prisons Service became autonomous in 1964.

The Prison is located at the heart of the Ho Bankoe, opposite the Municipal Hospital.

GNA’s information indicates that inmates are imparted with various employable skills that would empower them economically and help them integrate into society after their discharge.

The stations rehabilitative programmes are geared towards Carpentry, Masonry, Block Mouldings, Tailoring, Plumbing, Electricals, ICT, and Kente Weaving. It also offers religious, educational, and counseling programmes.

The Ho Female Prison was established in 1959, according to Togbe Afiatsoa II, Dutor of Ho. He said the female prison was attached to the Male Prison but became autonomous in 1965, when the Prisons Service started appointing prison officers as officers-in charge.

Source: GNA

Reference: http://www.gbcghana.com/1.4091773

Four remand prisoners at the Akuse Prison in the Eastern Region were discharged after two courts had heard their cases under the ‘Justice for All’ programme.

Out of the 23 cases reviewed, eight of the prisoners were absent from court and two were granted bail.

Three other prisoners were refused bail while two bail cases were reviewed.

Also, for two prisoners already on bail, one of the prisoners had his case struck out while the other had his case adjourned.

The suspects have spent between two and three years on remand for various crimes including murder, armed robbery, stealing, rape, fraud, and drug-related cases.

The six courts were presided over by two high court judges, Justice Clemence Honyenuga, and Justice Constant Hometowu.

The ‘Justice for All’ was initiated by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and the Ghana Prisons Service to ensure that justice is provided for every citizen, irrespective of one’s background to help decongest the prisons.

Justice Honyenuga, Chairman for the Justice for All programme, said that the project was being implemented across the country to decongest the prisons and ensure justice for all inmates who had been on remand for years awaiting trial.

He appealed to the society to accept the discharged prisoners since some of them were neglected and ended up committing the same crimes.

Justice Hometowu directed the Prison Service to conduct an investigation into the whereabouts of remand inmates who absented themselves from the court proceedings and present a report to the Chief Justice, the Director General of the Prison Service and the Inspector General of Police.

Mr Edward Fifi Acquah, Assistant Director of the Akuse Prison, commended the Attorney General’s Department and stakeholders for the exercise stressing that it would help decongest the prisons. SOURCE:

GNA Reference: http://www.gbcghana.com/1.2965760

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