His Lordship Justice Jones Dotse, a Supreme Court Judge, has called for a reformation of the country’s criminal justice system to address weaknesses in the system.
“We need to revise and reform our criminal justice system such that section 294 of the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) Act, 1960, should be amended to include more effective ways of punishment that will reduce the number of years inmates spend under custodial sentence”, he added.
[contextly_sidebar id=”bkmegdXgXyG0UlwARBrj4WSXUCVh2rhx”]He said if nothing is done to the criminal justice system, the country may be faced with the option of using its scarce resources to build more prison facilities as well as cater for the inmates of the prisons.
Justice Dotse made the call at a Symposium in Accra on the Country’s Criminal Justice System organised by the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration’s Faculty of Law and Helplaw Ghana, an NGO.
The Supreme Court Judge urged the Minister of Justice to initiate processes to set up a Criminal Justice Reform Commission.
This, he explained, would be required to do a complete overhaul of both Acts 29 and 30 both 1960, in order to sanitise the criminal justice laws to bring them in line with best practices around the world.
He said the country had a cruel remand system where bail was unjustifiably denied accused persons, describing the situation as an indictment on criminal justice system, and also where an accused person is put behind bars for years without trial.
Justice Dotse expressed concern about the delay in hearing and disposal of criminal cases and overcrowding of prisoners, due to the archaic and illogical system of punishment in the country’s criminal justice system.
He noted that, improper police investigation into criminal cases had led to failed prosecution, and sometimes innocent persons were unjustifiably sentenced and called for attitudinal change by all stakeholders to address the menace.
He was of the view the punishment regime in the country’s criminal system need to be broadened and expanded to include a probation period to allow a convicted person to serve part of the sentence in the community than serving all the sentence in prison.
Publicize criminal prosecutions
Justice Dotse also called for publicity of criminal prosecutions in the country.
“The lack of publicity about the prosecution, conviction and sentence of persons accused of some offences such as robbery, rape, defilement, narcotics and stealing, has resulted in the failure of the deterrent nature of the sentences being imposed having any effect on the public”.