The Justice for All Programme (JFAP), which has been receiving support from Danida, will continue until the last remand prisoner is released.
Even though Danida is phasing out its aid to Ghana, Justice of the Court of Appeal and Chairman of the Ghana Remand Review Taskforce , the body tasked to implement the JFAP, Justice Clemence J. Honyenuga, gave an assurance that the programme would work to expand its coverage to cover the whole of the country.
The JFAP moves from prison to prison to ensure that poor and vulnerable prisoners have access to justice.
These prisoners are persons who cannot pay for the services of lawyers and so under the JFAP, they are given lawyers to defend them for free and this has contributed so much towards decongesting the prisons.
The joint launch
At the joint launch of the Danida Country Evaluation Report 2007 - 2017 and the Governance Documentation Study, organised by the Danish Embassy in Accra, he said the programme faced some difficulties in trying to expand its coverage and then Danida got on board with its sponsorship and that made it possible for them to cover the whole of the country.
Justice Honyenuga, who was full of praise to Danida for its support, said the thousands of prisoners who had been released under the JFAP would be forever grateful to Danida.
During their sponsorship, he said Danida got POS Foundation, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), to take care of the lawyers, state attorneys and others who took part in the programme.
He, however, observed that the programme was not the solution to decongesting the country’s prisons and that it was only a stop-gap measure.
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Justice Honyenuga noted that Danida was again sponsoring the Non-custodial Sentencing Programme which sought to contribute to decongesting the prisons.
Through this, he said people who committed minor offences would be made to do community service under supervision.
Justice Honyenuga expressed appreciation to Danida for also sponsoring the first JFAP Awards recently, saying that Danida has done a lot for the Judicial Service and they were indebted to them.
Justice Emile Short
A former Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Justice Emile Short, for his part said Danida had done so much for CHRAJ and contributed significantly to the success and consolidation of democracy in the country.
He said he could confidently say that Danida had impacted on every sector of the nation’s economy.
He described Danida’s support for CHRAJ as long term and substantial, saying: “On the corridors of CHRAJ, Danida was a household name. Danida was CHRAJ and CHRAJ was Danida.”
“I can say that we are the biggest beneficiary of the Danida support in terms of computers, relevant materials for public education, refurbishment of our offices, vehicles, and many others,” he emphasised.
“Danida did so much for CHRAJ and helped to project it to the level that it got me to serve on other international Human Rights Commissions,” he added.
Dr Emmanuel Akwetey
The Executive Director of the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, said personally he had had relations with Danida in a way that made him see Danida as an organisation that supported ideas and serve as drivers of change.
“This is because in the Ghanaian system, we do not pay great attention to ideas,” he stated.
Recently, he said they had engagements on the need to make constitutional reforms and were invited by Danida for a chat on some of the items raised and how they could influence better governance.
Dr Akwetey said they submitted a proposal and Danida supported them.
By supporting the idea, he said they energised and empowered them to engage all those they should contact through dialogues, workshops and seminars.
Other speakers included the Danish Ambassador to Ghana, Madam Tove Degnbol, and the acting Director General of the National Development Planning Commission, Dr Grace Bediako.