The African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA), a Non Governmental Organisation, would soon roll out a Toll Free Call platform to enable the public, especially remand prisoners, to call and seek legal advice in all prisons in the country.

Speaking to journalists at the Akuse Local Prison in the Eastern Region after the Justice For All Programme (JFAP) sittings, Mrs Edna Kumah, the Executive Director of AWLA, said the number would be ready in two weeks.

This is the first time AWLA has joined the JFAP to observe its proceedings.

Mrs Kumah said although the JFAP had been in existence for the past 10 years, public participation was low and people did not seem to understand its activities.

She said the programme, dubbed; “Enhancing Justice Delivery through Innovative Participatory Approaches,” would enable AWLA to observe the courts’ sittings on the JFAP and provide a platform for the public to understand its activities.

“The observation of the court sittings by AWLA is part of the larger strategy of monitoring or tracking JFAP in order to document and collate issues that form the basis for engagements and actions from the Judiciary and other stakeholder institutions to improve the implementation of the JFAP.”

Mrs Kumah said the AWLA, with support from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), conducted a study, which revealed that citizen’s participation in the JFAP was low with only a limited number appreciating it.

She noted that to improve the implementation of JFAP, effective sensitisation and involvement of citizens were crucial.

Mrs Kumah expressed optimism that the effective tracking of the JFAP would enhance the timely response to issues relating to remand prisoners, especially women, and provide feedback to stakeholder institutions.

The JFAP is state instituted, established in 2007 to alleviate prison overcrowding by setting up special in-prison courts to adjudicate remand prisoners’ cases.

This is done through the support of the Judicial Service, Office of the Attorney General, Ghana Prison and Police services and POS Foundation, a Human Rights Organisation.

AWLA also promotes the democratic and human rights of citizens, particularly women, and other marginalised groups.

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