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Seventeen Prisoners, who had been on remand awaiting trial at the Sunyani Central Prisons for varying lengths of time have been released under the Access to Justice Project.  Briefing the Media, an Appeals Court Judge in charge of the Project, Justice ClemenceHonyenuga said in a bid to do more to decongest Ghana’s prisons, the Access to Justice Project is to be regionalized with local Judges to be appointed to continually review the cases of long serving Remand Prisoners for possible release.  In all 39 Remand Prisoners were affected by the exercise, with nine others given bail, seven refused bail, while four were convicted, with two applications struck out.According to the Access to Justice Project, a third of Inmates in Ghana’s Prisons consist of people who are detained awaiting trial.  The Access to Justice Project was consequently created to alleviate Prisons overcrowding through the creation of special courts to adjudicate Remand Prisoner Cases throughout the Country.  The Project is supported by the Judiciary, the Attorney Generals Department, the Ghana Prisons Service and the Ghana Bar Association.  The main facilitating body for the Remand Prisoners is the POS Foundation-Ghana, which exists to promote human rights, social justice and Youth Development. The aims of the Access to Justice Project, are bringing Justice to affected Inmates and are to reducing the number of Remand Prisoners in Ghana’s Prisons to reduce congestion.  Information from the Project, shows that the overcrowding is so bad that a cell designed to hold 13 Inmates at times accommodates 55 Inmates.  This is made worse by inadequate medical facilities in the Prisons to deal with the prevalence of communicable diseases that are high due to the congestion.  The overcrowding is further fueled by the lengthy pre-trial detention periods which remain a serious, problem in Ghana.  The Project’s visit to the Sunyani Central Prisons saw the creation of three temporary Courts, two high courts and a circuit court which handled the over 39 cases.  Speaking to the Media after the exercise, the Judge in charge of the Programme, Justice ClemenceHonyenuga welcomed Government inclusion of support for the project in the Budget for 2016. He said this will help the Access to Justice Project achieve its overall aim of decongesting the Nation’s Prisons.  He was also full of praise for the Bono-Ahafo Regional Branch of the Ghana Bar Association for the Pro-Bono work that it did to facilitate the hearing of the applications.  Present during the exercise were Officials of the Judicial Service, Judges a host of lawyers including a Legal Expert from the US Embassy, MichaelQuinley.

Biiya Mukusah Ali/http://newspaper.developghana.com/

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