The 10th anniversary of the Justice for All Programme (JFAP) has been marked with an awards dinner in Accra.
The Justice For All Programme was introduced in 2007 as part of the justice delivery process to decongest the prisons.
Although statistics are not readily available, it has been reported that the programme has resulted in the reduction of remand prisoners from 33 per cent in 2007 to 13 per cent in 2018.
The event was held on the theme: “JFAP: A unique model for fair trial and prisoners decongestion — Achievements, challenges and prospects”.
It was organised by the Judicial Service of Ghana, in collaboration with the POS Foundation and DANIDA.
Among those who were recognised were the Minister of Railway Development, Mr Joe Ghartey; a former Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Theodora Georgina Wood; the Judge in charge of the JFAP, Mr Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, and the Court Correspondent for EIB Network, Mr Wilberforce Asare.
Addressing the audience at the awards ceremony, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo noted that the success of the programme had put a feather in the cap of Ghana among the comity of nations.
He said the programme had received commendations from the United Nations, adding that Ghana, through the programme, had shown leadership on the continent, a situation which had attracted sister African countries to replicate it in their countries.
The President indicated that in November 2017, the UN Periodic Review in Geneva commended Ghana for the programme and stated that “there is no greater threat to a free and democratic country than a government that fails to protect its citizens’ freedom and liberty as aggressively as it pursues justice”.
He said the government was determined to protect the rights and freedoms of all Ghanaians in the spirit of the Constitution.
The President said efforts were being made to address the legislative and policy loopholes in the justice delivery system to put Ghana on the desired standing.
President Akufo-Addo appealed to the general public to support the programme, explaining that everyone could be exposed to injustice, hence the need to ensure that nobody was denied access to justice.
The President commended all the stakeholders who had worked over the years for the sustenance of the programme.
He particularly mentioned the current Minister of Railways, Mr Joe Ghartey, for initiating the programme in 2007 when he was the Attorney General and Minister of Justice; a former Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Wood, for sustaining the programme, and the current Chief Justice, Ms Justice Akuffo, for intensifying it and also introducing the first draft of non-custodial sentence.
For her part, Ms Justice Akuffo said a permanent High Court had been set up at the Kumasi Central Prison offering speedy justice to those who had been remanded.
She commended DANIDA for supporting the programme and appealed to the government to take over support for the programme as DANIDA wound up its funding as part of the Ghana Beyond Aid strategy.