Decriminalizing Petty Offences In The Right Direction
Human rights activist, Francis-Xavier Sosu, has welcomed a research report by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) Africa Office, on the need to decriminalize and declassify petty offences in the country.
The report seeks to press the judiciary and parliament to begin the process of reviewing and amending the Criminal Offences Act and other laws which deal with crime.
Speaking to Citi News, Sosu, who is serving a suspension from the Ghana Bar Association, suggested a holistic approach in dealing with such cases.
“I think it is a very a good report, in my view, it actually opens our eyes to reality check in our criminal justice system, particularly how somebody is alleged to have stolen a tuber of yam and is jailed for many years, compared to a politician who is alleged to have stolen huge sum of state money and only asked to refund. When you do all this comparison, then you start to reason that some of these petty crimes can be declassified,” he said.
He also noted that declassification of these petty crimes should necessarily translate to removing these petty crimes from our status quo as a crime.
Francis-Xavier thus demanded a revision of the sentences that come with these petty crimes.
“What I will urge is that the sentences that go with these petty crimes can be revised or amended and re-looked at, such that some of those petty crimes would either go with some fines or just reprimand or warning or community services,” he said.
Speaking at a program to validate a research report on petty offences in Ghana in March, a lecturer at the GIMPA Law School, Edmund Amarkwei Foley, urged stakeholders of Ghana's judicial system to consider alternative ways of dealing with such offences.
“The key recommendations are that Ghana should begin to consider the decriminalization of certain offences, principally, petty offenses or the declassification of those offences. By that, we mean to reduce them from maybe felonies to misdemeanours or just consider them as minor offences.”