About 3,000 remand prisoners are currently languishing in prison cells countrywide because of a number of factors.
The reasons include missen of dockets, transfer of police officers handling cases of remand prisoners and frequent adjournment of cases of remand prisoners.
The remand prisoners whose crime involves stealing and fraud have been in jail for between two and three years.
This is contained in a report titled, “Prisoners are bottom of the pile- the human rights of inmates in Ghana,” authored by Amnesty International to highlight the plight of prisoners in the country.
Presenting the findings of the report to a Deputy Minister of Information Mr. Samuel Okuzeto Ablakwa during a courtesy call on him in Accra Tuesday, the Coordinator of Health and Human Rights Amnesty International, James Welsh, said the growing number of remand prisoners was contributing to overcrowding in the prisons.
He said though some of remand prisoners who were being kept in jail might be guilty of the crimes they had been accused of, it was against their human rights to be kept in jail when they had not been tried.
Mr Welsh called on the government to intervene to ensure that the remand prisoners were sent to court for their cases to be heard.
The report, which was launched yesterday also highlighted overcrowding, poor sanitation facilities, inadequate food, skin diseases, poor medical services and poor rehabilitation and training for prison inmates as some of the challenges facing prisoners in the country.
Mr Welsh urged government to initiate strategies to strengthen the Prisons Service and improve the criminal justice system to ensure that no citizen was kept in jail without trial.
The Coordinator of Health and Human Rights, expressed the hope that government and the relevant state agencies would take seriously the concerns raised in the report and come out with strategies to address the challenges.
Asked about his opinion on the death penalty in the country’s statute books, Mr Welsh said it should be expunged because the law had not been applied since the country began constitutional rule.
“Death penalty, is an affront to human dignity,” he said adding that it did not deter people from committing crime.
Mr Ablakwa, responding to the findings of the report, commended Amnesty International for the research, saying, “such exercises help to improve humanity.”
He said: “The report will not be allowed to gather dust,” assuring that it would be presented to the government and the relevant agencies such as the Attorney Generals Department for appropriate action to be taken.
Mr Ablakwa said government was committed to improving conditions at the prisons as well as the rights of prisoners.
“Government is making strides in respecting the rights of prisoners,” he said adding that the inauguration of the Ankaful Maximum Security Prison showed government’s commitment to improve conditions at the prisons and respect the rights of prisoners.
On the issue of the remand prisoners, the Deputy Minister said the Justice for All Programmes had been introduced by government for cases of remand cases to be heard.