The supervising judge in charge of the Justice For All Programme and justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Clemence Honyenuga, is appealing to President Akufo-Addo to exercise his prerogative powers of mercy to decongest Ghanaian prisons.
The Constitutional Provision
Article 72 of the Consritution states that, “The President may, acting in consulation with the Council of State, (a) grant to a person convicted of an offence a pardon either free or subject to lawful conditions; or (b) grant to a person a respite, either indefinite or for a specified period, from the execution of punishment imposed on him for an offence; or (c) substitute a less severe form of punishment for a punishment imposed on a person for an offence; and (d) remit the whole or part of a punishment imposed on a person or of a penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to Government on account on any offence.”
Addressing the Press at the Ho Central Prisons after a Justice For All sitting, Justice Honyenuga said the exercise of the power by the President to prisoners who deserve them will greatly help in decongesting the prisons of the country.
President Akufo Addo since assuming office as President has not used the powers conferred on him by the Constitution to grant pardon, respite, substitute a less severe form of punishment or remit any person convicted of criminal offences.
Increase In Murder Cases
In his address, Justice Honyenuga, observed that persons charged with the offence of murder seems to be on the rise contributing to the increase in numbers of suspects on remand in prisons across the country.
“Among the lot, murder cases have topped the list and it looks as if it is becoming the norm in every region that we visit. Something ought to be done about this and everybody has to be on the look out. The offence of murder has contributed so much to the remand population and once a person is charged with murder, the person cannot be easily granted bail by the court and you know it takes a lot of time for murder to be investigated and it is partly the cause of the congestion in the prisons,” Justice Honyenuga said.
Outcome of JFA Sitting
In all, a total of 34 remand prisoners had their cases heard by the Justice For All Court that sat at the Ho Central Prisons. Two (2) were discharged unconditionally, seventeen (17) were granted bail. A total of nine (9) applications were refused and three (3) were struck out by the Court. The remaining three (3) remand prisoners were referred to see a psychiatrist for treatment.
The Justice For All Pragramme is an initiative of the Judicial Service of Ghana aimed at alleviating prison overcrowding through setting up special courts to adjudicate remand prisoner cases in prisons throughout the country. POS Foundation, a non profit organization, plays a pivotal role in ensuring that the cases of remand prisoners are properly aggregated for hearing by the Justice For All Court.