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22.10.2008 General News

Police get ultimatum -for renewal of expired warrants

By The Statesman

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Joe Ghartey, in consultation with the Inspector General of Police has directed all Police Investigators to take immediate steps to renew all expired warrants of remand prisoners within two weeks starting from today.

According to Joe Ghartey, as a result of the Remand Review Project of the Justice for all Programme initiated by his Ministry, it has become obvious that some warrants of remand prisoners have expired.

As a result some remand prisoners have been in prison custody for several months without making any court appearance.

Section 169(2) of the Criminal and other Offences (Procedure) Act 1960, Act 30 as amended by section 17 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Act 2002, Act 633 provides that a court shall not adjourn a case for more than fourteen days where the accused person is on remand.

The Attorney-General has further directed the Director of Public Prosecutions and all Regional Heads of the Attorney-General's Office to monitor the exercise and report back by the end of the stipulated period.

The Inspector General of Police is also to take appropriate action against Police Officers who do not comply with this directive.

Legal experts that The Statesman interviewed have described the A-G"s directives as a welcome move.

Making a preliminary comment on the issue, Tuinese Edward Amuzu, head of the Legal Resources Centre, noted that the directive is good and a welcome one.

He however was of the opinion that more needs to be done. According to him, there is a bigger problem beyond renewing the expired warrants.

He explained that "we need to find out why the issue of expired warrant arose in the first place and then address it'. This he said will help bring sanity into the system.

Nana Asante Bediatuo, a private legal luminary, said the directive is good news. He explained that warrants are given by the court for two or three weeks for accused persons on remand to appear in court again.

 He however noted that most of these warrants expire whiles the accused persons remained on remand in prison custody for years. According to him, 'these people's rights are being abused'.

He was of the view that what the A-G is doing would bring to the notice of the court the matter of expired warrants of remand prisoners and whether bail can be made available to them.

To him, this is a curative measure to the widespread abuse of the due process of the law, adding, 'These people cannot suffer at the expense of these lapses'.

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