Nana Kofi Tandoh, the Abusuapanyin of the Butre Stool in the Western Region, says avenues for seeking justice and prompt justice delivery is key to ending mob justice and other entrenched traditional means of dealing with offenders in local communities.
He bemoaned the receipt of unapproved fees by some law enforcers and wondered whether the justice delivery system was only for the rich in society.
Abusuapanyin Tandoh, therefore, expressed appreciation to the HURDS Foundation for enlightening communities on systems such as the Legal Aid, Social Welfare, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and non-governmental organisations offering free advisory services and promoting Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
The HURDS Foundation, a local partner to Commonwealth Human Rights Initiatives, has embarked on a series of education in some communities in the Western Region to sensitise them on the Ghana Case Tracking System (CTS), and the ADR Act, under the USAID Justice Sector Support Project.
“When I realised that my niece’s boyfriend was not ready to perform any marital rites after five children, I took him to the police but the matter ended nowhere…now I know of the right institutions to go to,” Abusuapanyin Tandoh said.
Three communities – Manso, Butre and Sopomu Dunkwa – have benefited from the Access to Justice Education programme.
The CTS linked all stakeholders in the justice delivery system into a platform for tracing the progress of cases and ensuring speedy trials to halt congestion at the courts.
The ADR, on the other hand, encourages home or scientifically grown approaches to settling disputes without the formal court system.
Ms Fidelia Owusu Konadu Sam, a Principal Investigator with CHRAJ, explained how the Commission used mediation, arbitration, and other forms of dispute resolution to settle cases and encouraged the communities to patronise their services in their quest for justice.
The Commission was established by the CHRAJ Act, 456 in July 1993 to handle Human Rights, Administrative Justice and anti-corruption cases.
It also ensures the enforcement of rights, investigates fundamental human rights violations and resolves cases through mediation and negotiation.
Ms Sam said some cases that one could report to the Commission included corrupt practices, non-maintenance of children and spouse, unfair treatment, intestate, harassment, domestic violence, property-related issues, and gender-based violence.
Others are discrimination, victimisation, poor service delivery, abuse of power, unlawful detention, bribery, embezzlement, conflict of interest and breach of code of conduct for public officials.
ADR and CTS
Ms Eva Ankrah, the Executive Director, HURDS Foundation, said more than 10 communities have been targeted to receive education on ADR and the Case Tracking System to empower local communities to seek justice.
She encouraged families not to shield domestic violence issues to avoid disastrous consequences.
Madam Elizabeth Baafo, a women’s group leader, described the education as timely as it would help the women address community issues such as teenage pregnancies, defilement and rape, and economic rights abuses.