A total of 14 remand prisoners at the Sunyani Central Prisons in the Bono Region have been granted bail under the Justice for All Programme (JFAP).
The JFAP was initiated by the Chief Justice in collaboration with the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice with POS Foundation as its facilitators to ensure that justice is provided for every citizen, irrespective of one’s background and also to help decongest the prisons.
In all, 35 cases were heard by the two mobile courts presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenuga and Justice Emmanuel Yonni Kolendi, both Justices of the Supreme Court.
At the end, 14 applicants were granted bail, 16 applications were refused with the applicants urged to make their applications before their respective trial courts.
One person was convicted and another was referred for Psychiatric treatment by the court. Three applications were withdrawn and consequently struck out.
The accused persons had been in prison custody between 2018 six months and four years for various crimes, including murder, rape, fraud and illegal possession of drugs.
According to the records from the Ghana Prisons Service, the impact of the program has contributed to the reduction of Ghana’s remand prisoner population from 33% as at 2007 to 9.5% in 2022.
Justice Clemence Honyenuga, a Supreme Court Judge who also doubles as the Chairman of the Justice for All Programme said the virtual court sitting was adopted due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
He said the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons and the Ho Prisons will be the next destination of the programme.
Justice Honyenuga also acknowledged the recently passed Plea Bargaining Bill which he said will help decongest the various prisons.
COP Nathan Kofi Boakye, the Director-General in charge of Legal and Prosecution said the police service is not unaware of the challenges associated with the prisons and will contribute their quota to support the efforts being made.
Justice Emmanuel Yonni Kolendi, a Justice of the Supreme Court while commending the POS Foundation led by Jonathan Osei Owusu, the state attorneys and the team for their respective role, said “We are all potential candidates for prison.”
While commending the facilitators, Justice Yonni Kolendi entreated them to keep improving on their lm to improve upon activism.
Jonathan Osei Owusu, the Executive Director of POS Foundation while expressing his gratitude to the justices and all the team member assured that his team will ensure they keep improving on their activism.
About the JFAP
The Justice for All Programme (JFAP) is a State led intervention, established in 2007 to alleviate prison overcrowding by setting up Mobile In-prison Special Courts to adjudicate remand/Pre-trial prisoner cases throughout the country.
This initiative enjoys the collective efforts of the Judicial Service of Ghana, the Office of the Attorney-General, the Ghana Prisons and Police Service, CHRAJ as well as POS Foundation (Civil Society body that serve as facilitators).
Article 14(4) of the 1992 Constitution stipulates 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.
What constitutes reasonable time is yet to be properly determined – and it is the absence of the codification of this rule that is greatly responsible for the excessive periods in which prisoners in Ghana are held without trial.
Congestion has forced prisoners to sleep in very dehumanizing positions in prison cells. It is common for as many as fifty-five (55) inmates to share a cell intended for twelve (12).