USAID Justice Sector spearheads effective case-tracking system in Ghana

Accra (G/A),July 24,GNA - In conformity with measures to streamline the criminal justice system in Ghana, the United States Aid for International Development (USAID), Justice Sector Support (JSS) Activity, is poised to fastrack the Case Tracking System (CTS) towards effective justice delivery in the country.

The project, which is the first electronic integrated criminal justice Case-Tracking System launched by the government in 2018,seeks to support key justice sector institutions to collect, collate and harmonize statistical data for effective justice delivery.

The CTS project is designed to enable key actors in the justice delivery system, electronically access and track the various stages of criminal casesfrom the point of arrest, investigations, prosecution, conviction, rehabilitation and release.

It is being facilitated by a consortium led by the Legal Resources Center(LRC),the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative(CHRI) and Crime Check Foundation with funding from USAID to strengthen advocacy on accountability of key justice sector institutions to improve justice delivery.

It is the objective of the project to increase citizen’s knowledge and access to justice sector services and increase citizens oversight and monitoring of criminal cases.

The Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of Crime Check Foundation, Mr Ibrahim Oppong-Kwarteng, during a day's training session for a group of core journalists said the consortium through Media advocacy, would assist the citizenry especially suspects and convicts to deal with infractions in the criminal justice system.

He cited the unlawful arrest, detention and remand in police and prison custody, violation of the habeas corpus Act by putting suspects in police cells for more than 48 hours and extorting money from suspects and convicts before the were granted bail.

Mr.Oppong-Kwarteng who had been accredited as Ghana's Ambassador to the Prisons, also expressed wary about the seemingly congestion at the Prison cells and said the number of inmates to a cell in Ghana's Prisons was not in tandem with the United Nations Conventions and infringed on the rights of inmates.

He stressed the need for the Non-Custodial Sentence bill to be brought back to Parliament and passed into law in addition to strengthening the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ARR) mechanism to reduce backlog of cases at the law courts and decongest the Prison cells.

A Rule of Law Specialist, Mr.Enoch Jengre said the criminal justice system was fraught with challenges such as the cost involved to initiate a case, unreasonable delays in justice delivery, high perception of corruption, executive and political interferences as well as lack of effective collaboration among criminal justice delivery agencies.

He also called for a persistent reportage from the media to remind duty bearers to close the gap in the justice delivery system, inform and educate the citizenry on how to access justice.

Giving an overview of the USAID Justice Support System, a Public Education and Advocacy Specialist with CHRI, Mrs.Esther Ahulu, said the project was in consonance with the Justice For All Programme aimed at easing congestion at the Prisons.

She said the programme was bent on assisting people who come into conflict with the law right from arrest at the police station through to the time of bail and acquittal of suspects and convicts.

Mrs.Ahulu cited teething challenges bedeviling justice delivery as the rampant missing of case dockets, bribery and corruption among others.

She said with CTS in vogue, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) would be sensitized to play pivotal role in the justice delivery system.

A Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Mr.Samuel Kombian said the CTS integrated software system was a centralized or common platform to track criminal cases to improve on the overall administration of justice.

He was emphatic that with the CTS, dockets could not be missing.

Mr.Teye Kitcher a retired broadcaster who spoke on ethical guidelines of journalism, asked journalists to make use of the capacity building workshop and avoid lies and half-truths in their reportage.

He said as the watchdog of Society, journalists wielded strong power which had the potential to make or mar people in governance and the nation at large.

He entreated the Ghana Journalists Association to organize refresher courses for journalists and give them living remuneration.