Speech Delivered By The Vice President At The Swearing In Of The Board Members Of The Ghana Prisons Service Council.
- HON. DEPUTY MINISTER
- CHIEF DIRECTOR
- MEMBERS OF THE GHANA PRISONS SERVICE COUNCIL
- INVITED GUESTS
- OUR MEDIA FRIENDS
- DISTINGUISHED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
1 I am privileged and honoured to be here today to be part of this afternoon’s inauguration ceremony.
2 Let me first thank you, on behalf of H.E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo–Addo, for accepting to serve mother Ghana as a member of the Prisons Service Council. You have been selected according to the regulations of the Prisons Service to either represent the Government or a key stakeholder institution.
Let me add that in choosing you to represent these entities, your personal achievements, experience, skills and commitment were seriously considered and rated high. This means that the selection body saw in you potentials and qualities that undoubtedly could positively influence the kind of management and policy direction that we intend to carry our prisons administration through in this country under H.E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. It is for this reason that the government and the country are very grateful for your kind acceptance to serve on this council, for a full term.
3 Chapter Sixteen of the 1992 Constitution establishes the Ghana Prisons Service and the Constitution gives the Service the requisite backing to carry out its role as a custodian, and in the rehabilitation and re- integration of persons who find themselves on the wrong side of the law (Prisoners).
All over the world, prison philosophy is changing. The philosophy is changing from merely being a safe custody of Prison inmates to the rehabilitation of the offenders. The aim eventually is to re-integrate them back into their societies; and to continue to play the roles that we all expect from our compatriots- as nation builders not wreckers.
4 Unfortunately our prison facilities as they exist today cannot be trusted to offer this very important service, and achieve this noble objective of correcting behaviours and attitudes of law breakers.
There has not been much physical/infrastructural improvement since the colonial days to provide these essential and critical services which are the core functions of custodial sentences. Indeed apart from the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons and recently the newly built Ankaful Maximum Security Prisons, all other Prison facilities in the country are relics of the old forts and castles bequeathed to us from the colonial administration and this cannot be condoned further as a modern society.
You will agree with me that, with the expansion and growth in population, there is a corresponding increase in crime and deviant behaviours. Our population has moved from a little over six million (6,000,000) at Independence to twenty- seven million (27,000,000) now. Sadly, our prison facilities obviously need to be expanded, but most importantly with more modern facilities, rehabilitation tools and trained personnel to manage the situation for better outcomes.
5 Unfortunately for reasons that we are all privy to, our facilities have not seen much improvement over the years. They are highly (in fact inhumanly) over- populated and crowded with their attendant threat of outbreaks of diseases, negative survival behaviours and human rights abuses. It is my hope that under this Council, and with the support of the government, you shall work hard to earn the record of being the ones to right these wrongs in our prison facilities.
6 I must say that I have followed extensively the Justice- For – All Programme and I am happy with what it has achieved so far. I think it has been a very useful policy in helping to ease the congestions and human right abuses in the prisons.
7 To advance this further, it is the desire of this Government to champion the introduction of Non-Custodial Sentencing Law. This will offer many more non- custodial sentence options to our judges so as to avoid the congestion and human rights abuses and all the associated ills that we are currently observing in the Prisons.
8 Council members, I am also aware of the poor ratio of personnel to inmates in the Ghana Prisons Service. This is one reason why the performance of our prisons services continue to fall far below the required UN Standard.
To address this gap, Government has requested the Prisons Service to initiate the process of recruitment to increase the personnel level and improve on our services. The Ghana Prisons Service has been given approval to recruit one thousand (1,000) personnel to make progress towards meeting the international best practices in prisons administration. All these processes will require your direction and expertise so that the right caliber of persons are recruited to meet the expected standards.
9 Ladies and Gentlemen, I am very aware that the issue of Human Rights remains a concern to all of us. Our mandate can be successful only if we look at both sides of our prison services delivery; that is, the facilities/physical infrastructure and the prison officers themselves.
Though inmates are confined as prisoners, let us not forget that they have rights which should not be taken for granted. This requires the professional training and retraining of our officers using modern methods and following acceptable processes and procedures in Prisons administration. This we owe to ourselves, to those entrusted in our care, and to the image of Ghana in international circles.
It is my hope that this council will show great interest in the training and development of the prison officers to achieve this goal. Through local training, sensitization, awareness and also participation in foreign missions and exchanges, we can build the capacity of our men and women who are charged to perform the difficult and sometimes dangerous public service. Remember that the officers are our best allies in this reformative and re-molding exercise.
10 Under this Council, we expect that the Ghana Prisons Service would rebrand itself. Our expectations of diligence and professionalism are high. This is what we need in order for the general public to have the trust and the confidence in their role in building mother Ghana through prisoner reforms.
11 Before declaring this Council formally inaugurated let me remind you that the Prison Services is an essential service provider and therefore must avoid taking to industrial actions (strikes) in addressing their grievances. This means that as a Council you must be proactive and quick in dealing with issues that are brought before you in order not to push the officers to the wall.
12 Currently, the Service has a number of facilities that have been overtaken by development. The Maamobi and the Kumasi Central Prisons facilities immediately come to mind. They have been caught up in the heart of the cities, due to urbanization and growth. There is the need for Council to critically consider and supervise the relocation of the Prisons facilities to more appropriate areas to meet acceptable practices. I am sure the Council together with the Prisons Administration could explore the Public Private Partnership concept and modalities to undertake this assignment.
13 Accept once again my appreciation Mr. Chairman and all members of the council for accepting to serve on the Prisons Service Council and I wish you well as you serve Ghana in this capacity.
Having recited the Official Oath, the Oath of secrecy, and with these words; I pronounce the Ghana Prison Service Council officially inaugurated. Congratulations and God help us all.