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09.03.2009 Politics

Incarcerating people without warrant is unacceptable

By Charles Takyi-Boadu - Ghanaian Chronicle

A Human Rights crusader, Raphael Godlove Ahenu Jr., has expressed shock over revelations that remand prisoners have been kept in prison for a long time without any charges being preferred against them.

According to him, the situation was unacceptable, if the report published by Centre for Human Rights and Civil Liberties (CHURCIL) in the dailies recently, and what Tsatsu Tsikata, who was recently released from Nsawam Prisons, said at a human rights forum organized by the Free Tsatsu Campaign, which revealed that about 1,200 inmates were being held in prisons without warrant, are true.

Mr. Ahenu continued that the issue must be a source of grave concern to all, particularly human rights activists in the country, and appealed to them to help address the situation.

Speaking to newsmen in Sunyani recently, Mr. Ahenu called on the Attorney General and the Ministry of Justice to, as a matter of urgency, facilitate the trial of such prisoners, and release those who have no case to answer.

Mr. Ahenu is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of African Media Aid (AFRIMA), a media development non-governmental organisation (NGO) aimed at promoting a human rights culture in society.

The organisation also works towards the empowerment of women, children and civil society, as well as the law enforcement agencies, through education, awareness creation and legal interventions.

He again expressed worry over the unhealthy state and overcrowding in the country's prisons, saying, “If pragmatic measures are not put in place to arrest the increase in human rights abuse in the country, the situation could get out of hand.”

Mr. Ahenu, therefore, challenged President John Evans Atta Mills' administration to make human right issues its main concern, to help drastically reduce human rights abuse cases, especially among women and children.

He also urged the new government to ensure that overcrowding in the country's prisons becomes a thing of the past, by expanding prison facilities, as well as improve the health conditions of the prisoners.

He suggested to the government to put in place measures to ensure that more prisoners, particularly the youth, receive employable skills while serving their prison terms.

According to him, AFRIMA would this year embark on a human rights campaign programme, dubbed “know Your Rights” and “Abolish Death Penalty”, aimed at educating the general public on their rights, as well as mobilising people to campaign against the death penalty.

He appealed to the general public and other human rights institutions, especially the media, to join, as well as support the campaign when it starts in April this year.