BY MUNTALLA INUSAH email@example.com
POLICE PROSECUTORS who are tasked by the Attorney General’s Department to prosecute criminal offence on behalf of the State say they are “frustrated” and “fed up” with the continuous use of their “pocket monies” to provide services to the State.
With the introduction of Discovery of Documents as per Article 19(2) (e) (e) of the 1992 Constitution in November 2018, police prosecutors and State Attorneys are mandated to make available relevant documents they intend to rely on to prosecute accused persons and the court prior to or in between the commencement of trial, depending on the court’s discretion.
Sources within the prosecutors said since the introduction of the procedure in November 1, 2018 they have made several copies of documents with their “own pocket monies” and averred that the instance where they did not have money, they asked for unnecessary adjournments, a development that forces the courts to discharge accused persons “for want of prosecution.”
“The judges have made it clear to us that if we do not file the orders as per the directives, they will discharge all accused persons no matter the offence that they have committed, meaning that whether armed robbers, murderers or fraudsters and they come back to the society,” a worried police prosecutor lamented to the paper.
According to him, the police prosecutors, “we don’t have offices, we don’t have tables to put our documents and write. We only go to court and you have to make sure that if a docket is brought to you, you call the witnesses one after the other and put down their statement and give it to a typewriter to type it at your cost.
“When you are going to file it at the court, it is free. But you don’t have a computer, you don’t have a typewriter and a printer so before you finish giving about five copies to the witnesses, the judge’s copy, plus the lawyers copy, my brother some of the investigators have to spend more than GH¢200 and we are fed up. We don’t have money and we are tired.”
Give us resources
He continued: “Our problem is that we don’t have resources and the money. You can make one docket and spent almost GH¢30. Assuming you have about five or six, can you imagine how much you will spend? And this is a continuous something.
“We have to buy the papers, it is a very worrisome issue so our case is that they should open up a copy centre whereby we can go there to do our photocopies without any cost, and we will be okay, because we police prosecutors are prosecuting on behalf of the Attorney General either than that, more criminals would be freed.”
The CJ’s directive, the source said, is that every police prosecutor, the judge or the magistrate, before you commence prosecuting a criminal case, the prosecutors have to give you all statements of the witnesses.
“…And apart from the statement written at the police station, you the prosecutors have to write another statement to elaborate it very well by typing, making photocopies and giving a copy to the judge, a copy to the defence counsel and a copy for yourself.”
Criminals walk free
He said sometimes at Case Management Conference at the judge’s chamber you are required to produce a voluminous document, “so assuming you have about five witnesses and five times five witnesses, you 25 sheets and you have to contract somebody to write or type it for you to file.
“Before you are done you would have spent more than GH¢250 and no prosecutor is prepared to use his pocket money for that so if that prosecutor is not having money to use it, then the judge discharges the accused and this thing is going to happen on many occasions and criminals will have their freedom, because if you tell me I should provide all these documents, now I don’t know how to type, I have to contract someone to type it for me and charge me.”
‘Govt ignores us’
Another prosecutor lamented that the Government is not taking care of those expenses “so when we put an armed robber before court, and they are about four and I am having about five witnesses or six, including my complainants, I have to write all their statements send them to a typist, to type them nicely. Then I take it to photocopy all and I have to file it and before you finished, your money is gone.
And you cannot demand that money from the complainant. He will report you, you cannot demand that money from the state, and they will not pay.
“So what the judges too are doing is that if the prosecutor is not having money to do it, I cannot say it in open court so I will be telling my lord ‘I file it’ three four times if your don’t have money to do it, then there are discharged. “Who loses? That is very serious. For the police, how are we going to get the money from? I’m telling you that many accused persons are now being discharged from court, whether robbery or murder because we don’t have money to do that. Sometimes we run 70 pages, sometime 100 pages, depending on the magnitude of the case, so, now the laws have become so flexible for the criminals,” another prosecutor lamented.