A Rule of Law Specialist at the Legal Resources Centre, Enock Jengre has called on Ghanaians to take advantage of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism to resolve minor offences such as rent litigations, family litigations and land disputes among other petty offences to speed up justice delivery in the country.
According to him, ADR should be the first resort for parties on petty cases that can be addressed without going to court.
Mr Jengre was speaking at a public sensitization forum on Ghana’s Case Tracking System (CTS) held in the Prampram Municipality of the Greater Accra Region.
The Rule of Law expert emphasised that the use of ADR would help strengthen and speed up dispute resolution because the courts are overwhelmed with cases that can easily be resolved with out-of-court settlements.
Taking advantage of this method of resolution has enormous benefits, especially for the poor who cannot afford legal fees.
“Commission for Human Rights And Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and Department of Social Welfare use this medium and this is what we want parties to look out for especially if you don’t have money. We should let our tempers calm down a bit. We shouldn’t look at the court as the first point of start in resolving our cases.
“We should look at the court as the last resort and I believe that once we do that we will reduce maximally the number of cases that are pending before the courts. One judge could have about 50 cases within a time period to resolve,” Enock Jengre stated in an interview.
The Legal Resources Centre, a non-profit organisation organised the forum to sensitize the participants including religious groups, association representatives and staff of the National Commission for Civic Education and the Information Services Department among others on the CTS and its long term benefit to the state.
The CTS, which seeks to promote transparency and speed from inception to the disposal of criminal cases was launched by the Ghana Government in 2018 with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The CTS is birthed to address poor communication between justice institutions resulting in over-population in Ghanaian prisons.
Currently, the system has six key Justice Sector Institutions; the Ghana Police Service, Ghana Prisons Service, Legal Aid Commission, Economic and Organized Crime Commission (EOCO), Attorney-General’s Department and the Judiciary.
The Case Tracking System basically promotes the involvement of civil society organizations in advocacy for justice delivery to help deal with the delay experienced by some suspects especially the vulnerable in resolving their cases.
The CTS is being rolled out in 40 districts in seven regions. The software is presently in 757 centres of which the USAID Justice Sector Support activity is monitoring only 291.
Users of the software are able to download, upload and update it with any information on a particular case while the CSOs are only allowed to monitor its usage and the progress of cases captured on it.
Meanwhile, Samuel Fant Kombian, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist with the Legal Resources Commission expressed disappointment that four years after the launch of the CTS, the key Justice Sector Institutions such as the police, prisons and the Attorney-General’s Department have not been using it effectively.
“Most of the officers who are part of the chain to use the CTS are not well versed in the use of electronic applications and devices like phones, tablets and others which is also hindering the effective utilisation of the CTS.
“Frequent transfers of officers who have been trained on the CTS is also another challenge that is affecting the use of the CTS. Because someone who is trained today is transferred to another station and it creates a vacuum that needs to be filled,” he stated.
Samuel Fant Kombian further added that when it is working as expected, all the key Justice Sector Institutions would be aware of the progress of a case and be alerted on the platform when a suspect is due for court.
While explaining how they planned to address the challenges associated with its use, Mr Kombian said “we’re looking at rooting the training on CTS through the training schools as one of the ways to sustain this. Because the time police officers are graduating from each of the police schools already have knowledge on how to use the CTS so no matter where he’s posted, he has the ability and capability to utilise it.”
Funded by the USAID, the workshop gathered personnel from Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Information Services Department, religious groups such as the Muslim and Christian communities and association representatives to help broadcast and sensitize the public on the need to use CTS and ADR.
Source: Sefakor Fekpe