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22.10.2002 General News

Warrant issued for 15 prostitutes

By Ghanaian Times/Revised by Michael Janiszeski
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The Accra Regional Tribunal hearing the case of 26 prostitutes on Monday issued a bench warrant for the arrest of 15 of them. This followed their failure to appear before the tribunal for proceedings to begin in the case. The Osu Community tribunal last month convicted the 26 to three months in jail each for prostitution, a sentence they are appealing in the courts. Following the appeal, the Regional Tribunal granted them bail in the sum of ¢200,000 with one surety. They were expected to appear before the tribunal for the appeal proceedings to begin. The tribunal, chaired by Adu Gyamfi deplored the conduct of the 15 and threatened to remand them arrested and brought before it at the next adjourned date. He adjourned the case to the 28th of October to allow the state to study the substantive appeal filed by the prostitutes, and also to enable the police arrest 15 absentees. The prostitutes, represented by E.O. Komatsi filed the appeal last week but the tribunal could not hear the case because it was filed late. In filing the appeal, counsel is arguing that the Osu Community Tribunal out-rightly flouted Section 276 of Act 29/60 of the Criminal Code under which his clients were charged. “The three months custodial sentence had no authority since the law prescribed just a fine not exceeding 25 pounds and not imprisonment.” Explaining, he said that section of the law directed that “an accused shall be liable for a first or second offence to a fine not exceeding 25 pounds and for a third or subsequent offence, shall be guilty of a “misdemeanor.” To that end, he said that the tribunal was “palpably, manifestly and demonstrably” wrong in imposing a harsh custodial sentence because it was unauthorized. He argued that although the tribunal ascertained that most of the prostitutes were unemployed and manual workers, it gave no consideration in that respect before pronouncing the jail sentence against the prostitutes. He expressed optimism that the Regional tribunal would do them justice by awarding a fine, and not an imprisonment.

The Nima Police in Accra arrested the 26 at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle for practicing prostitution about two months ago. Out of the total of 34 prostitutes and their male customers who were arrested, five pleaded guilty before the Osu tribunal and were remanded, two proved to be a couple and were discharged, and the rest pleaded guilty and convicted on their own plea. The tribunal sentenced them to three-months imprisonment in hard labor.

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