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11.12.2009 General News

CHRAJ to sue Government over remand prisoners

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CHRAJ to sue Government over remand prisoners
December 10, 2009
Accra, Dec. 10, GNA - The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) on Thursday stated its intention to institute legal action against the government over remand prisoners who had exceeded their warrant period.

Mr Emile Francis Short, CHRAJ Commissioner, described the about 1,554 remand prisoners, representing about 57 per cent of the 3,000 inmates in Nsawam Prison alone, as unacceptable and tasked the government to initiate the process to put them on trial.

Speaking at the International Human Rights Day celebration in Accra, Mr. Short decried the congested nature of the prison as well as the deplorable conditions the inmates were faced with and reiterated call on the government to demonstrate enough political commitment to ameliorate the worsening conditions.

December 10 is known as International Human Rights Day, marking the anniversary of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Genocide Conventions.

This year's celebration is under the theme: "Embrace Diversity; End Discrimination".

Mr Short said the Commission and other governmental agencies were collaborating to deal with the case of remand prisoners, "but we will not hesitate to go to court should the government drag its feet".

Concerns have been expressed recently about the extent to which suspects are put on remand beyond their warrant periods. In some cases this exceeds the prison term they would have served if sentenced appropriately by the law courts.

Speaking on the state of human rights in the country, the CHRAJ Commissioner expressed concern about the state of prisons in the country, stressing "most prisons far exceed their capacity".

"In the Akuse Prison, the facility was built to cater for 60 inmates but as at the time of CHRAJ visited it recently, the prison was housing 271 inmates, while pregnant women were noted in the Kumasi and Sekondi Female prisons and the Sunyani Female Prison had a nursing mother".

He said some of the prisons at Sunyani, Yendi, Sekondi, Kumasi, Koforidua, and Accra had mentally challenged persons in custody, the Tamale Central and Akuse Adults prisons had some juveniles in custody.

Mr Short appealed to the Attorney General's Department, the Judicial Service, the Ghana Police Service and other stakeholders to speed up the process of decongestion in the prisons and improve conditions.

The CHRAJ Commissioner raised issues about the poor health knowledge, adding "most Ghanaians are generally aware of their rights to health but most lacked information about the details of such rights particularly since there is not a specific statement on the rights to health in the Constitution".

He therefore called on the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service to work tirelessly to solve the problem of inadequate personnel and logistics for regional, districts and community health clinics.

Mr Short stressed the need to improve on the working conditions of health workers in order to attract and retain qualified health professionals, whilst the National Health Insurance Authority endeavour to achieve the nation-wide network of the NHIS to enable patients access health care delivery anywhere in the country.


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