The Director of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Africa Office, Mina Mensah is calling for the review of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act, 2010 (Act 798) and the Legal Aid Commission Act, 2018 (Act 977) to include petty offences.
She believes this will go a long way to reduce congestion at the country’s prisons, as Alternative Dispute Resolution will be used to settle most of the cases that go to court.
Mina Mensah was speaking at the Stakeholders’ Roundtable discussion on the review of the Alternative Dispute Resolution and Legal Aid Commission in Sunyani.
The day’s stakeholders’ Roundtable discussion on the need to review the Alternative Dispute Resolution and Legal Aid Commission Acts was attended by personnel from the Ghana Police and Prison Services.
Others were from the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Department of Social Welfare, Legal Aid, Traditional Leaders and Civil Society Organisations.
Mina Mensah the Director, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Africa Office, speaking at the programme said, “One of the things that can be done to make access to justice easy is Alternative Dispute Resolution.”
“The act that establishes the ADR needs to be reviewed so that people can readily sort out their issues before it escalates. If you go to our prisons, people are there because of minor issues which could have been solved by ADR. But we are using our meagre money to cater for them.”
A lecturer at the Catholic University College of Ghana and ADR Specialist, George Kafui Agbozo called for the inclusion of ADR in the syllabus of the Ghana Police Service.
This he believes, will go a long way to empower them to have an idea about ADR so that when they come on the field they can use it effectively.
The Branammanhene, Nana Kwaku Bediako V, on his part, called for the review of the ADR so that some powers are given to the chiefs to settle some civil cases that could be handled at the local level. This, he noted, will help to decongest the country’s prisons.
“If chiefs are empowered, there are some of the issues we can handle so that they do not go to court to help reduce congestion at the country’s prisons.”
ASP Beatrice Korsah from the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service in the Sunyani Municipality on her part called for more training for the personnel of the service especially Crime Officers, Prosecutors and personnel in the DOVVSU unit noting that this will help in the usage of ADR.