The Municipal Coordinating Director for Effutu Municipal Assembly, Mr. Kofi Boateng Acheampong, has called for the creation of a Legal Aid Office in Winneba. This, according to him, will ensure effective justice delivery for ‘vagrants’ and other voiceless citizens in search of justice in the district.
He lamented the fact that the Effutu Municipal which services the Effutu Traditional Area does not have a legal aid office. He noted that the creation of the office will ensure the presence of a state lawyer who can provide legal support for poor and voiceless citizens in search of justice.
Mr. Acheampong made this call when stakeholders at a sensitization workshop organized on the bye-laws of the Effutu Municipal mentioned the lack of a legal aid office as a key issue that affects effective justice delivery for them. Crime Check Foundation (CCF) organized the workshop in collaboration with the Effutu Municipal Assembly on Thursday, 29th July, 2021, in Winneba. Responding to how the absence of A Legal Aid Office affects access to justice for citizens, Mr. Acheampong added that “every Metropolitan, Municipal, and District is supposed to have a Legal Aid Office with a lawyer who can support the poor and voiceless citizens who need legal support”.
He added “the need for the creation of the legal office is very imperative because citizens who violate the bye-laws of the Assembly are fined, or jailed if they are unable to pay the fines imposed by the Assembly. Most of these poor citizens who find themselves at the wrong side of the laws are illiterates who do not know their rights and court procedures. This makes the creation of the legal aid office very important.”
The workshop formed part of the implementation of CCF’s Decriminalizing Vagrancy Laws and Advocacy project which is funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA). The program seeks to increase citizens’ knowledge on the bye-laws of the MMDAs to reduce arrests, harassments, fines and jailing of vagrants and other vulnerable citizens who violate these laws.
Present at the event were the Municipal Chief Executive for Effutu, Mr John B. Ninson; the Municipal Coordinating Director, Mr Kofi Boateng Acheampong (Esq); the Presiding Member, Jones Kwarteng; the Municipal Environmental Health Officer, Mr Godson M. Lodo; representatives of the Effutu Traditional Council; the Winneba Prison Commander, ASP Peter Afari Mintah, as well as representatives of associations within the informal sector and vulnerable groups.
Officials from CCF and the Effutu Municipal Assembly took turns to sensitize participants on prison conditions and various bye-laws of the Assembly. This was in the collective quest to reduce arrests, fines and sentencing of vagrants or poor citizens under the bye-laws.
About OSIWA: The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), established in 2000, is a grant-making and advocacy organization focused on equality, justice, democratic governance, human rights, and knowledge generation. It is part of the global network of Open Society Foundations spread across 37 countries around the world. He said the Assemblies outrageously fine these vagrants for committing petty offences.
Citizens’ Complaints: Crime Check Foundation (CCF) is a crime prevention advocacy organization that uses Life in Prison Documentaries to sensitize the public to the dangers of crime.
To report harassment and potential imprisonment under a local assembly bye-law, please contact or whatsApp: 0559544199 / 0507353539