ADR should be annexed to the court system - Thompson
Ms. Sarah Thompson, Director of Judicial Reforms
and Projects, on Tuesday called for mediation as an annex to the court system
to help decongest the court and ensure justice for all people.
She explained that every case reported to the court should automatically
be channelled through the court connected Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) so that, if the mediation failed, the court would take the case through a full trial.
Ms. Thompson made the remark at a workshop organized by the Judicial Service of Ghana and the Justice and Human Rights Institute to validate a
report on a study conducted into Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism
and Access to Justice for the Poor and Vulnerable.
The study commissioned in March 2008 is a result of an ADR system introduced by the Judiciary in 2005 and subsequently institutionalized as an integral part of the justice system in Ghana.
Ms Thompson identified the court-connected ADR system as a key component to bringing justice to all people especially the marginalized, poor and vulnerable in society.
The Court connected Alternative Dispute Resolution aims at mainstreaming a mediation programme into the judicial service so that cases that are not very complex could be handled through the ADR.
“Most cases reported to the court can actually be handled through mediation apart from murder, rape and other criminal cases,” Ms Thompson said.
She suggested that every court should have a room set aside for pure mediation and said more people should be encouraged to choose the ADR as a preference to court litigation.
Ms Thompson said the judicial service was in the process of addressing issues on court proximity and pointed out that the service was trying to set up a district court in every community so that people did not have to travel long distances to go to court.
Mr Samuel Bosompem, an official of the Judicial and Human Rights Institute, giving a presentation of the research they did and the findings said the ADR was biased towards the poor and vulnerable to ensure that everybody accessed justice.
He noted that there was the need for more public education on the ADR programme to popularize the system since most of the respondents did not know about it.
“The traditional marking of the ADR week celebration annually is extremely helpful and should be publicized more using the media,” he said.
Mr Bosompem said the report also recommended the establishment of an ADR fund to help sustain the programme because most of the mediators handling cases left shortly after training because of low remuneration.
He expressed the hope that lawyers would buy into the idea of mediation to help decongest the courts and also ensure that the poor and less privileged in society had access to justice.