BY MUNTALLA INUSAH
Members of the Judicial Press Corps have been urged to focus on human right abuse cases, especially at the lower courts.
The call was made at an Open Society Initiative for West Africa sponsored training programme organised by African Heights Foundation at the Fiesta Royal Hotel in Accra. It was on the theme, ‘Court Reporting from a Human Rights Perspective.’
Dennis Armah, the president of African Heights Foundation who is a private legal practitioner noted that cases at the lower courts have human right implications and the media ought to put the spotlight on them to ensure that the conviction of persons found to be guilty, acts as deterrent to citizens who may want to attempt to commit similar offences.
He also observed that cases at the Lower Courts (Magistrate Court to Circuit Court) like robbery, stealing, unlawful entry, defilement, possessing narcotic drugs, causing harm, assault, fraud and indecent assault, directly relate to rights of accused persons.
“Most often than not, the rights of accused persons arraigned at the Lower Courts, are not respected. The lack of concentration on these courts by journalists with interest in reporting from the courts, compounds the issues even more,” he noted.
He urged the media not to focus mainly on cases at the Upper Courts (High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court) which are mostly political and constitutional in nature.
The two-day programme held from October 26-27, 2018 saw the participants taken through topics such as ‘Understanding the Human Rights Concept and the Underlying Principles, Understanding the Ghanaian Criminal Justice System, (focused primarily on Act 29 and Act 30, from arrest to sentencing) and the Role of the Media in Social Justice.’
Other topics were ‘Criminal Justice System from the Perspective of the Police, The State of Ghana’s Prisons’ and Other Related Matters and Assessment of the Criminal Justice System and Suggestions for Reforms.’
Visit to Nsawam Prisons
The training ended with a visit by the participants to the Nsawam Medium Security Prison to familiarise themselves with prison conditions and the necessary advocacy that is needed for the improvement of prison conditions in Ghana. The participants were also taken through the rudiments of the prisons, as well as the dos and don’ts at the prisons.
The facilitators for the programme were host of Newsfile on Joy FM, Samson Lardy Aryenini, Mr Paul Ademang of the Ghana Prisons Service, His Worship, Eric Daning, District Court Magistrate in Koforidua; Superintendent of Police, Emelia Asante and law lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration Law Faculty, Edmund Foli.