Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Naa Adorkor’s 15 year-old daughter was raped by a 45 year-old neighbour
she vowed no expense would be spared in prosecuting the man. Four years
later she has spent all her money and still received no verdict from
“I am fed up and frustrated. Sometimes I
regret seeking justice in the court,” she said after the case was
adjourned for the umpteenth time last week.
Adorkor, a 50
year-old mother of five makes US$40 a day selling roasted fish in the
James Town district of Accra. She is now ready to accept the US$200
out-of-court settlement her daughter’s rapist is offering.
have spent all the money I have on this case,” she shrugged. “I should
have simply accepted the offer of money [in the first place] and
dropped the case.”
There are no exact figures but Ghana’s
judicial service estimates there are “several thousands” of unheard
cases like this one across the country.
Some people have been waiting for justice for five years or longer.
the court system clogged, Ghanaians have taken the law into their own
hands. According to statistics from the police, in 2007 more than a
thousand incidents were recorded as “mob justice” when suspected
criminals were attacked and murdered by civilians.
worried; the snail’s pace of justice is now encouraging mob justice and
vigilante style justice. A quicker and better solution must be found,”
said Edward Amuzu, the head of legal advocacy group, Legal Resources
Deputy Judicial Secretary, Abdullai Iddrisu said
Ghana’s chief justice has launched a process to construct more courts,
increase the number of judges and magistrates working in the system,
and to get some civil cases out of the courtroom and into mediations
and other dispute resolution programmes.
So far however the
only visible reform is a dictate that judges and magistrates must now
hear cases over the weekend. The policy, introduced by Ghana’s Chief
Justice, makes it compulsory for judges and magistrates to sit on
Saturdays to hear selected cases of domestic violence and rape as well
as cases relating to loss of revenue to the state.
is starting with only 200 unheard cases. Iddrisu says the selected
cases “are crucial to the public and will need immediate action” and
that is why they are getting priority treatment under the policy.
from the Legal Resources Centre said the weekend court policy will not
make enough of a difference. “What is needed is a total restructuring
of the legal system,” he said.
Existing courts need to be
streamlined, more courts are needed, time management systems must be
implemented, and cases distributed more evenly among judges, he said.
Source: IRIN NEWS http://irinews.org