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General News Thu, 7 Sep 2006

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Rights group denounces instant justice

Accra, Sept. 7, GNA - The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) on Thursday condemned the resurgence in instant justice seen recently in Accra and in other communities saying 93instance justice is no justice'.

In a statement issued by Nana Oye Lithur, Ghana Representative of the rights group, it noted that over the past few weeks, there had been an alarming increase in people taking justice into their own hands and stressed that the law protected the right to life.

CHRI referred to Chapter 5 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana on human rights and freedoms, which states that all natural and legal persons in Ghana have to respect and uphold these rights which are directly enforceable by the courts as provided for in the Constitution.

The Constitution states: 'No person shall be deprived of his life intentionally except in the exercise of the execution of a sentence of a court=85under the laws of Ghana.'

CHRI said the Constitution also guaranteed respect for human dignity and no person shall be subjected to 'torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment'.

It said the right to a fair trial was also protected and any 'person charged with a criminal offence shall be given a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court'.

'Whilst it may be tempting to want to act immediately, especially if caught red handed, those accused of crimes must be left to the hands of the legal authorities.

'Instant justice is not justice at all as it shows disregard for society, each other, the rule of law, the criminal justice system and the Constitution.

'Actual justice means that an individual must have the right to a fair trial, due process and a chance to explain their actions or defend themselves.'

CHRI said the legal system could be very frustrating and time consuming, but it must be for the courts to determine what happened and the appropriate punishment - if an accused person were found guilty. It said a culture of instant justice had serious implications for the community at large, through the decay of the moral fibre of society and the undermining of its values.

'Our democracy is founded on individual citizen's rights and equality; this means certain individual rights such as pursing justice personally must be handed over to a constitutional authority.

'If the law courts are not allowed to prosecute individuals in a way which protects these rights and the rights of the victim, the whole idea of democracy is dangerously undermined.'

Source: GNA

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