Students from the California State University at Sacramento in the United States of America have visited the Ashaiman Central Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre (ADR) as part of a study tour to understand the African criminal justice system.
The visit seeks to equip the students with basic knowledge to enable them to appreciate their field of study and their interaction with the rest of the world, especially Ghana.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Dr Ernest Uwazie, the Chair of the Division of Criminal Justice and Director of the Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution at the California State University, said the visit would help the students realize similar issues and foundations shared by communities across the world.
He said the visit would open up the students to many possibilities and realities of the criminal justice system that was not only in one geographical location and culture.
Dr Uwazie, who was part of those who equipped members of the Ghana Association of Certified Mediators and Arbitrators, which set up the Ashaiman Central ADR, said it was exciting to see what one of their trainees was doing.
“Ashaiman Central ADR must be commended for its credible work of providing justice and serving the need of communities, helping people who find themselves in inevitable situations of conflict to be resolved peacefully and feel satisfied both with the process and the outcome.
“So I want my students to come witness and see this community-based justice system as part of their studies in the criminal justice system with those that are formal and informal in the community,” he said.
He said the court had its role unquestionably but not all conflicts or cases should be sent there for arbitration, mediation, and reconciliation, among others, adding that “ I don’t think that every conflict has to be resolved or should be subject to the full rigorous of the court.”
“It needs to be clear that the court has its role, but we also think to create more chances for justice we need an organization such as this ADR in Ashaiman that is very close to the people where they can come confidently and get their issues resolved confidentially.
“There are many other conflicts that I’ll argue don’t need to be sent to the court because even at the end of the day when the court issues its judgement, it doesn’t necessarily resolve the conflict and for instance, it might escalate the conflict,” he stressed.
Mr Isaac Yaw Mensah, ADR Practitioner in Ashaiman, said the use of ADR had reduced the number of civil cases in the municipality and urged all to use ADR for its affordability and flexibility.
The Ashaiman Central ADR said as of July 15, 2022, it had mutually settled 480 out of 527 cases with 47 outstanding cases.
The students also paid a courtesy call to the Islamic court in Ashaiman to know how their system works.