Ghana: Press spotlights introduction of plea bargaining into criminal justice system, others

APA - Accra (Ghana)

President Akufo-Addo’s signing of the bill to amend the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) Act, 1960 (Act 30), to formally introduce plea bargaining into the administration of criminal justice in the country in respect of all offences except a few set out in the law is one of the leading stories in the Ghanaian press on Thursday.

The Ghanaian Times reports that President  Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Friday, assented to a bill to amend the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) Act, 1960 (Act 30), to formally introduce plea bargaining into the administration of criminal justice in the country in respect of all offences except a few set out in the law.

By virtue of this, the bill has become law – the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) (Amendment) Act, 2022 (Act 1079).

Plea bargaining is a process in criminal justice where an accused person relinquishes the right to go to full trial in exchange for some other benefit.

The Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, played an instrumental role in the passage of this bill into law.

Consequently, the office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice would conduct training programmes for judges, prosecutors in the Office of the Attorney-General to ensure efficient application of the law, said a statement signed by the Attorney-General following the passage of plea bargaining law.

“I respectfully inform the general public that in order to ensure a sound and efficient application of the new law, a series of training programmes will be organised for judges, prosecutors in the Office of the Attorney-General, the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Prisons Service and other stakeholders in the legal profession before the law is fully implemented.”

The newspaper says that the Bank of Ghana has dismissed claims by the Minority in Parliament that it has printed money to the tune of ¢22.04 billion to finance government’s budget.

In a statement to set the records straight, the Central Bank said the amount of ¢22.04 billion represented net claims on government, and not new currency printed to support the government’s budget.

The Minority Ranking Member on the Finance Committee in Parliament, Cassiel Ato Forson, on Monday alleged that the Bank of Ghana had printed an amount of ¢22.04 billion to finance government’s budget without parliamentary approval.

His assertion was in response to the 2022 Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review which was presented to Parliament by the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta.

The Central Bank explained that “in Appendix 2A of the Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review document, under financing, out of the total financing of ¢28.12 billion, an amount of ¢22.04 billion was captured under BoG. This is the amount being referred to by the Ranking Member as BoG’s printing of currency to support the budget.”

However, it said, the net claims of ¢22.04 billion has the following four components.

They are; Government of Ghana stocks and bonds sold by commercial banks to Bank of Ghana under repurchase agreements, by which banks routinely manage their liquidity positions; the International Monetary Fund SDR allocation disbursed to government through Bank of Ghana; Draw-down of government’s own deposits held with Bank of Ghana and negative balance on government’s account with Bank of Ghana at a point in time, and self-liquidated as new government deposits credited to the account.

“First, there is an amount of ¢1.6 billion which reflects GoG Stocks and bonds sold by commercial banks to Bank of Ghana under repurchase agreements. These bonds, held by a commercial bank since 2021 were purchased by Bank of Ghana to provide liquidity to the bank, under a repurchase agreement that required the bank to buy back these bonds at a later date,” the statement said.

The Graphic reports that the Supreme Court has declared as unconstitutional a section of the Narcotic Control Commission Act, 2020 (Act 1019) which allows licence to be granted to an entity to cultivate a small quantity of cannabis, popularly referred to as "wee" in Ghana for industrial and medicinal purposes.

In a 4-3 majority decision Wednesday (July 28, 2022), a seven-member panel of the apex court held that Section 43 of Act 1019 violated Article 106 of the 1992 Constitution, which details the processes a bill must go through before it is passed into law by Parliament, and was therefore null and void.

“The plaintiff's action succeeds. Accordingly, Section 43 of the Narcotics Control Commission Act, 2020 (Act 1019) is thereby declared null and void and struck out as unconstitutional as it contravenes the letter and spirit of the Constitution, 1992, particular Article 106 (2) (a) (b), (5) and (6) thereof,” the court held.

The case which culminated in the judgment was filed by one Ezuame Mannan against the Attorney-General.

Justices on the majority side were Justices Jones Dotse, Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu and Emmanuel Yonny Kulendi.

Justices Nene Amegatcher, Prof Nii Ashie Kotey and Issifu Omoro Tanko Amadu dissented.

The court did not give the full reasons for its decision which it said would be filed at the court’s registry by August 11, 2022.

The newspaper says that the public has been urged to open their arms to ex-convicts by accepting them back to the communities to enable them to live their normal lives and work to earn a living, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said.

He said although it was the duty of the Ghana Prisons Service (GPS) to reform and rehabilitate inmates for their re-integration into the communities, such effort would come to nought if the larger society continued to stigmatise and refuse to accept ex-convicts.

“In as much as personnel of the Prisons Service owe it a duty to work to ensure ex-convicts are well reformed and rehabilitated back to the communities, the larger society must also prepare and take responsibility to welcome and work with them, so that they do not become repeat offenders,” he added.

President Akufo-Addo was speaking at the graduation and commissioning of 198 career officers of the GPS in Accra yesterday after six months of intensive training.

The graduands comprised 127 men and 71 women with various academic and professional backgrounds.

They studied topics such as legal and policy foundation, penal, human rights and administrative laws, public sector management, stores administration, as well as prisons and prisoner management.

They were also taken through rigorous paramilitary training, physical fitness and psychology.

The President said the government was mindful of the increasing challenges confronting the GPS in the face of society’s continuous expectations of the service to discharge completely changed ex-convicts.

He said the government was also working towards addressing issues of congestion and poor living conditions in the prisons.


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