Ghana’s Attorney General worried about delayed cases in courts

Attorney -General and Minister for Justice, Betty Mould-Iddrisu has expressed worry about the perennial delay in adjudicating cases in the country’s law courts.

She says a holistic review of the criminal justice system is needed to reverse the trend.

Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu was speaking during a visit to her hometown, Ejuratia in the Afigya Kwabre District in the Ashanti Region, where she commissioned a school block and a mosque built by her husband.

Under the existing judicial system, cases take averagely between five and ten years to be determined in a High court, for instance.

The situation has compelled the Attorney General’s Office to introduce some interventions.

Though some Higher Courts have been fast -tracked, about 90 per cent of courts continue to record proceedings manually.

The Attorney -General also identified frequent adjournment and lack of case management system as some of the factors militating against the judiciary.

She proposes measures to address the challenge.

‘We need a special remand court which will hear only the cases on remand….When you had trials on indictment, some of them are non- bailable. That would be rape, incest armed robbery, narcotic trafficking, all of these are non-bailable’’.

According to her about one thousand inmates at the Nsawam Prisons are there on non-bailable offences.

‘’You go to Nsawam; the 1400 people there on remand are there on non-bailable offences, so how do you go forward on that? So it is a difficult situation.

She admitted ‘‘cases are slow, they take a very long time to be heard and it’s a multi faceted approach which we have started’’.

The Attorney General and Minister for Justice propose a review of the justice system to meet the aspiration of those who seek justice.

‘’Since I came in we’ve started trying to track the problem but it will take a holistic review of the Ghana’s criminal justice system in particular more automation of courts, stricted case management by the judges’’, she proposed.

Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu also wants lawyers to take over prosecution of cases from police in line with the 1992 Constitution which confers the power of prosecution on the Attorney- General.

Improper handling of some prosecution by police is said to account for the AG’s office losing many cases involving cyber crime, financial crime and fraud.

Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu says the time to change is now especially when some crimes are getting complex while police have no knowledge to deal with them.

‘’Ghana is now named the 7th country in the world with the highest incident of cyber crime… It is a shocking indictment on this country and the police have absolutely no training in legal matters. Meanwhile they work with Act 29 and 30 but they don’t know.’’

She wants lawyers takeover prosecution of cases.

‘We are the lawyers and we know the law. We are trained in law. It is now time, looking at the increasing complexity of cases that lawyers man those prosecution’’ she explained.

The Attorney General blamed police poor showing as some of the factors making the Attorney General’s office loose cases.

‘’We are losing cases. The A-G is always accused of loosing cases, these are some of the issues and also with the greatest respect to the police, sometimes getting them to bring a docket especially when they feel it is juicy or a sensational docket can be very difficult’’.

This she said situation has made the A-G lose several cases.

‘’There are several cases we are suppose to have lost, I never ever saw the docket’’ she said.

Story by: Ohemeng Tawiah, Nhyira Fm/Kumasi/Ghana

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