A Rule of Law Specialist with the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), Enoch Jengre has suggested a legislation that will mandate lawyers to make available their services to poor citizens pro bono for a period in every year.
Mr. Jengre was making a presentation on access to justice in Bolgatanga, the Upper East Regional capital at a sensitization workshop on the Ghana Case Tracking System (CTS).
The programme formed part of the implementation of the USAID-sponsored Justice Sector Support Activity (JSSA).
The workshop which was organized under the auspices of LRC and its partners, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and Crime Check Foundation (CCF), drew representatives from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Heads of Departments, the security service among other stakeholders.
Mr. Jengre bemoaned the high cost of legal services which some members of the public, especially the vulnerable are unable to afford.
He indicated that the legislation will also help forestall injustices against the poor and vulnerable who due to their social status are taken advantage of, because of their inability to hire the services of a lawyer.
“Can we have a legislation that really bind lawyers?. We could have at least 10 legal services offered to citizens, especially the vulnerable every year. When this enactment of a legislation comes in, it will help the vulnerable in our society,” the Rule of Law Specialist suggested.
Mr. Jengre further appealed for more lawyers for the Legal Aid Commission to make access to justice easier and also help build confidence in the citizenry in the justice delivery system of the country.
“As of June 19, 2021, the number of lawyers at the Commission stood at thirty-five (35) with two out of them in the Upper East Region. “When justice is inaccessible, the result is injustice. Injustice leads to bitterness, anger, revolt, and ultimately political and social disintegration,” He noted.
The Rule of Law Specialist called for the passage of the Non-Custodial Sentencing bill into law to help decongest prisons across the country.
“It will be another way of even helping to contribute towards the manpower needs and development of the nation. Work such as distilling gutters, or just cleaning around your environment because of a petty offence you commit, will help.
“This will be better than convicting petty offenders into prisons and feeding them with taxpayers’ money when they can actually serve their communities. It will even serve as a deterrent to offenders,” he said.
USAID Justice Sector Support Activity
The USAID Justice Sector Support Activity is an intervention that seeks to reinforce efforts by the US Government to enhance Ghana’s justice delivery system by increasing Citizen Oversight and Monitoring of Criminal Cases, increasing citizen knowledge and access to Justice Sector services, and strengthening advocacy for accountability of key justice sector institutions for improved justice delivery in Ghana.