Judges Urged To Use Powers Wisely

The Chief Justice, Mrs Theodora Georgina Wood, has appealed to magistrates and judges to use their powers wisely for the greater good of the nation. “As a country, we should not tolerate a situation where judges and magistrates continue to remand accused persons in custody even when they had been charged with a bailable offence”. The Chief Justice, who is Chairperson of the Judicial Council, said this when she inaugurated a new court building in Winneba. The building, which cost about 300,000.00 Ghana cedis, was constructed by the Judicial Service in collaboration with the Effutu Municipal Assembly with support from the Danish International Development Agency. Mrs Wood said the new building had two court rooms, one of which would be used to run the District Court whiles the necessary modalities would be put in place to utilize the other as a Circuit Court. She said the judiciary could not continue imposing harsh and unreasonably long custodial sentences for every convicted person. She said: “The prison population as it stands now should compel us to confront the past”. Mrs Wood said the Justice for All Programme had been a useful intervention to decongest the prison, despite the problems that confronted it. She said: “The time has come for the key actors in the administration of justice to fashion a progressive remand policy”. “We must seriously examine the experiences and best practices of other jurisdictions and take bold steps to amend our policies, programmes and approaches”. Mrs Wood said other forms of punishment and options existed for consideration. She said the nation’s prisons, which in fact should be correctional facilities, were bursting at their seams as a result of the daily intake of both remand and convicted prisoners. According to her, she had directed all circuit judges and magistrates to furnish her office with monthly returns on accused persons on remand for information and necessary action adding that the time had come to review all relevant legislation.