Regional News of 2014-06-20

CHRI trains paralegals to assist indigent arrested persons

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has recruited and trained paralegals to provide legal aid and education to needy, persons in police cells and their families to access justice.

The exercise is to showcase the important roles of paralegals in the Ghanaian society and help improve policing, judicial practices and reduce injustice to persons in pre-trial detentions, as well as minimise police impunity.

Head of CHRI, Ghana, Ms Mina Mensah told the GNA on the sidelines that the paralegals would visit selected police stations in Accra and Kumasi to provide human rights education to suspects arrested by the police.

She said they would also monitor police compliance of suspect’s human rights, juridical procedures, document violations and refer them to pro bono lawyers where necessary for advice.

“Hasty arrest is frowned upon, unfortunately, it is the biggest offence committed by the police,” said the CHRI boss.

She expressed worry over difficulties confronting the poor and the vulnerable in accessing justice in Ghana, saying: “many Ghanaians do not get legal protection due to poverty.”

The situation is more distressful in the wake of acute shortage of legal aid representatives in Ghana and the apparent limitless powers of the Police fuelled by failures within magisterial practice, Ms Mensah added.

Some resource persons expressed concern that the court system was too slow while some clients are alleged to pay lawyers to drag cases in court over unnecessarily long time.

The 10 participants were urged to be conversant with the police service instruction, the criminal code and the constitution, to facilitate the work and serve as an effective bridge between the police and the suspects.

Source: GNA
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