Crime & Punishment of Tue, 1 May 20183
Accused seeking bail bags more jail term
A 40-year-old man who applied for bail under the Justice for All Programme (JFAP) has rather been jailed 7 years. Emmanuel Atido was slapped with the jail term after he admitted defiling a 10-year-old girl.
The convict told the specialized High Court that he indeed defiled the girl, but was under the influence of alcohol.
His bail application was accordingly dismissed by the court, and he was convicted.
The court, presided over by Mr Justice Kwasi Dapaa, however gave him the minimum prescribed sentence for defilement.
Atido was part of a group of remand prisoners that appeared before the specialized High Courts set up under the JFAP at the Ankaful and Winneba Prisons in the Central Region.
In all, the cases of 29 remand prisoners were reviewed by the two specialized courts, presided over by Mr Justice Clemence J Honyenugah, a Justice of the Court of Appeal and Mr Justice Dapaa, a High Court judge.
Four of the remand prisoners, including Alex Dagarti, who had been on remand for eight years on a charge of rape, were discharged by the court.
“It is really sad that this man has served 8 years in prison without trial,” Mr Justice Honuyenga said after setting Dagarti free.
Eleven of the remand prisoners were granted bail, nine were refused bail, three cases were struck out, one was referred to psychiatric hospital for evaluation, while one was convicted and sentenced.
Alex Dagarti, who had been on remand for eight years, packing his belongings after he was set free under the JFAP
The JFAP started in 2007 with the aim of reducing overcrowding at the country’s prisons
Under the programme, specialized courts are set up at the prisons to review the cases of remand prisoners.
Depending on the nature of the case, the court can discharge the remand persons, grant them bail, vary their bail conditions, among other things.
The JFAP is under the auspice of the Ghana Remand Review Taskforce (GRRT), which comprises the Judicial Service, the Attorney- General (A-G)’s Department, the Ghana Police Service and the Prisons Service.
POS Foundation, a human rights non-governmental organisation, facilitated the cases on behalf of the remand prisoners, with some lawyers also acting as counsels for the prisoners on pro bono.
This year, Lawyers Owusu Sekyere, Isaac Aidoo, Mavis Andoh and Saani Rashid acted as counsels for the remand prisoners.
The programme was funded by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA)
In an interaction with the media, Chairman of the GRRT, Mr Justice Honyenugah, said the JFAP had chalked tremendous success over the years.
“The remand population of the country’s prison as at 2007 was 30.7 per cent of the entire prison population, but as at December 2017, it has reduced drastically to 12 per cent, he said.