Kumasi Central Prison gets new Paralegal Office

The POS Foundation in conjunction with the GIZ, has recently commissioned a newly furnished

A  Paralegal Office refurbished by POS Foundation in collaboration with German Development Agency (GTZ) has been inaugurated at the Kumasi Central Prison, in the Ashanti Region.

Outdoored at Kumasi Central Prison, the POS Foundation, with support from GIZ also held a Multi Stakeholder workshop on the In-prison paralegal program, which was slated on the theme, “Access to legal aid, the role of stakeholders towards prison decongestion, challenges and prospects”.

Excerpts from the workshop connoted that, there has been steady increase in prison population which places financial burden on governments globally and Ghana is not an exception.

In an exclusive interview with Mr Jonathan Osei Owusu, Executive Director of POS Foundation observed that, Ghana has made significant strides in its criminal justice sector in ensuring several justice sector reforms.

According to him, there are myriad of challenges still facing the delivery of justice, and this is not limited to lack of technology, access to the legal aid services, overcrowding among others.

He chronicle that, in 2008, Ghana took a giant step to introduce the ‘Justice For All Program’ (JFAP) to adjudicate remand prisoner cases by setting up mobile in-prison courts that provided free legal services for remand prisoners.

Citing the success story of the JFAP, Mr. Osei Owusu said the programme has helped reduce remand prisoner population from 33 per cent in 2007 to 8.06 per cent as at March 2024 as the statistics from the Ghana Prisons Service revealed.

 The POS Foundation, a leading human right civil society in Ghana in partnership with the Ghana Prisons Service successfully piloted the IPP at the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons in 2018, he mentioned.

 “The IPP seeks to compliment the Justice For All Program (JFAP) in its efforts to reduce prison overcrowding by training convict inmates and prison officers as paralegals to help convict prisoners who might have received a miscarriage of justice or excessive sentence to appeal their cases on self-representation under Article 19 (2) (f) due to financial capacity to hire the service of a lawyer”, he explained.

He narrated a scenario about Ama Forson, a 69-year-old woman convicted on narcotic charges to 11 years is a beneficiary of the IPP was acquitted and discharged after spending 4 years and 7 months in prison after an appeal through the program.

This amongst many were successes chalked at the Nsawam Medium Security Prison and two offices renovated and fully furnished to serve as a paralegal office for trained in-prison paralegals under the IPP.

The program has been expanded to include the Kumasi Central Prisons in 2023/2024 received utmost collaboration from the Legal Aid Commission. Selected inmates and prison officers have received effective paralegal training, and a fully equipped paralegal office has been built for efficient paralegal operations within the prison.

The 1-Day multi stakeholder workshop for justice sector actors on access to legal aid thoroughly discussed the IPP for effective evaluation and feedback for possible future expansion and improvement.

Also, it successfully brought together selected Justice Actors in Kumasi to collectively brainstorm and discuss on their various institutional roles towards access to legal aid, identify challenges and propose prospects towards the promotion of Justice delivery for prison inmates.

POS Foundation is a Human Rights Civil Society Organization which focuses its activities in the areas of Human Rights Advocacy and Development, Law/Policy Reforms, Youth Development and Social Accountability, the POS Boss reiterated.

“With a track record of successful projects, the organization has strategically positioned itself as one of the leading Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Ghana in the area of justice reforms and access to justice, advocacy for the right to information, convener for the civil society platform on the UN Universal Periodic Review in Ghana, Drug Policy reforms and currently serves as the secretariat for the Ghana Human Rights NGOs Forum” he recounted.

The POS Foundation Executive Director commended the Ghana Prisons Service for their enormous works in the country by ensuring safe custody, rehabilitation and reformation of inmates and also thanked the service for their unflinching support.

He expressed appreciation to the GIZ and Legal Aid Commission, Ghana for making the commissioning of the paralegal office at the Kumasi Central Prison a success.

Director of Prisons, DOP Samuel Kwame Owusu Amponsah, Director of Prisons/Operations graced the commissioning and commended POS Foundation for the paralegal office at the Kumasi Central Prison.

FROM TIMES REPORTER, KUMASI

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