Access to legal aid for fair and equal justice delivery remains civil right and not a privilege, Mrs Esther Poku Adu-hene, Public Education and Advocacy Specialist of the USAID Justice Sector Support Activity of the Commonwealth Human Right Initiative (CHRI) has said.
The CHRI, a non-governmental organisation, is implementing the USAID-funded Ghana Case Tracking System (CTS) aimed at helping to strengthen the nation’s justice delivery system.
Mrs Adu-hene said financial constraints, ignorance, and lack of information deter people from accessing justice service delivery in the country.
She was speaking at separate community durbars to mark the 2021 celebration of the Legal Aid week, held at Dwenem and Drobo in the Jaman South District of the Bono Region
Mrs Adu-hene underlined the need to intensify community education to enlighten and empower the populace who could not pay for legal services to easily access legal aid and seek equal justice.
“CHRI in collaboration with the Legal Aid Commission is, therefore, sensitizing the citizenry to help strengthen the operations of the Commission, and make their activities accessible to the people”, she explained.
The CHRI with support from the US Justice Sector Support organised the durbars attended by artisanal workers, market women, assembly members, traditional authorities and youth groups, and civil society actors.
“CTS tracks criminal cases reported to the police and judiciary from the beginning to the end, to speed up processes and avoid unnecessary delays”, Mrs Adu-hene stated.
The Police, Prisons, Legal Aid Commission, Attorney General, Economic, and Organized Crime Office, and the Judicial Service are the project implementing partners.
Mr Nicholas Kwadwo Ofori, a Senior Alternative Dispute Resolution Officer at the Legal Aid Commission said nothing should impede people from accessing legal aid services for justice delivery.
“The Commission is there to provide legal representation, mediation, advice as well as facilitation of Alternative Dispute Resolution”, he said.
Mr Ofori explained Article 14 of the 1992 Constitution entitled people to a state counsel of their choice while Article 294 further promoted citizens’ civil rights and entitlement to free legal aid services.
Nana Abena Tamea, the Gyasehemaa of the Drobo Traditional Council, lauded the CTS project saying it would greatly restore trust in the nation’s justice system delivery system.
At Dwenem, Ms Christiana Dede, a Seamstress Apprentice expressed concern about child abuse and neglect in the area and appealed to relevant institutions to intervene and bring the situation under control.