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Supreme Court strikes down law on non-bailable offences

Date published: Thursday, 5th May 2016

The Supreme Court has ruled that persons accused of crimes such as murder, rape and narcotics can henceforth be granted bail, striking down a nearly 60-year-old law.

In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court by a 5-2 majority decision Thursday struck down Section 96(7) of Act 30 declaring the law on non-bailable offences unconstitutional.

The judgement comes more than one year after private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu filed a suit on 16 February 2015, asking the apex court of the land to declare that Section 96(7) of the Criminal Procedure and Juvenile Justice Act is unconstitutional.

He told myjoyonline.com, that if a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, then there is no need for an accused to be kept on remand while the case is tried.

The Act on non-bailable offences is the reason why many are languishing in prison cells for years even though they are presumed innocent.

Markin Kpebu described it as “one of the most oppressive laws on our statute books”.

The move is expected to greatly decongest Ghana’s prisons.

The lawyer gauged the number of immediate beneficiaries of this ruling by the number of remand prisoners who gained partial freedom through a programme aimed at delivering swift justice, The Justice For All Programme.

Trials in Ghana take too long, he observed adding that while cases keep on getting adjourned, accused persons are frustrated in remand prisons.

Sometimes, the state does not have evidence to prosecute, leaving the accused in police cells until a time when the state wants to continue the case.

Dockets also getting missing and police also delay their investigations, Kpebu continued his observations.

"Why should the accused suffer for all these delays?" Kpebu questioned the injustice in the system.

He told myjoyonline.com, even the police must be happy with the ruling.

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