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18.11.2008 General News

Legal Aid resolves 1, 400 cases

The community mediator centres (CMCs) of the Ghana Legal Aid Scheme have resolved 1,400 out of, the 2,000 cases brought before them. as of the end of August this year.

The remaining 600 cases are still going through mediation.

The CMCs serve as a platform where individuals or groups in dispute resolve their disagreements with the assistance of trained third parties who are neutral and are referred to as mediators.

The Director of the Ghana Legal Aid Scheme, Mr Alhassan Yahaya Seini, who disclosed this in an interview after a workshop in Accra, said litigants were beginning to understand and have confidence in the concept.

Participants at the workshop were mainly mediators from all over the regions.

They were taken through the various forms of alternative dispute resolution to help reduce the tension and conflicts in their respective regions.

Mr Seini said in 2007, the Ghana Legal Aid received 600 cases, out of which 400 were resolved through mediation.

He explained that community mediation, which the people had begun to show confidence in, was a five-year pilot programme being sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

He said at the moment the Legal Aid Board was training more people to take up mediation at the district level.

Mr Seini said there were 28 CMCs spread across the 10 regions of the country, saying the concept was to be extended to the district level by establishing centres there to offer the platform for disputants to create their own solutions to their differences.

He said it was also to improve access to justice for all people within the communities.

Mr Seini said the concept was to provide an alternative to adversarial, cumbersome and expensive means of conflict resolution.

He stressed the need for the government to be prepared to take over the system when the UNDP pulled out for the public to continue to build their confidence in it.

The Board Chairman of the Legal Aid Scheme, Mr Justice F.M. Lartey, advised the mediators to exhibit high sense of dedication, devotion and commitment to their task.

He said they had to muster courage and self confidence in attending to their clients.

He urged them, as trained mediators, to be able to influence the lives of the less privileged in society.