The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Africa office and an implementing partner of the United States Agency International Development (USAID) Justice Sector Support Activity, in collaboration with the African Institute for ADR Studies and Social Development (AFIASSD), has engaged three municipalities in the Greater Accra region to educate the citizenry on the Ghana Case Tracking System (CTS).
CTS is an integrated software that tracks criminal cases in the justice delivery system from inception until their disposition. The team, led by Innocent Adamadu, the facilitator and head of AFIASSD, visited three municipalities namely; Ashaiman, Amasaman in West Ga and Teshie in Ledzokuku.
In 2018, the Government of Ghana launched the first electronic Integrated Criminal Justice Case Tracking System (CTS) project to support key stakeholders in the justice delivery system to collect and harmonise statistical data for effective justice delivery.
The Ghana CTS project, which is being supported by USAID is, therefore, to enable the key actors, namely Police Service, Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice, Legal Aid Commission and Prisons Service to electronically access and back the various stages of criminal cases from the point of arrest, investigation, prosecution, conviction, rehabilitation and release.
The success of the Ghana CTS would largely depend on increasing public awareness to support and understand the system and thus, demanding the utilisation of the system by the justice sector institutions to improve justice delivery.
The system has an online, offline and an Android version and Mr Adamadu explained to the gatherings at the three different venues that they needed to support the Ghana CTS to solve the problems of delays in serving justice due to several challenges.
He mentioned these challenges as missing case dockets, slow processing of documentation among the justice institutions, overlooking of court dates for remand prisoners, lack of access to instant statistical data on crime and poor communication between the justice institutions, leading to overpopulation in the prisons by remand prisoners with expired warrants.
“With the Ghana CTS, all of us will have a common platform for easy tracking of cases and communication between the justice institutions, it will allow us to have easy and quick sharing of information on cases among the justice institutions and it will generate instant reports on crime to guide and inform decision making by our leaders,” he explained further.
He said almost all the personnel at the various institutions linked to the Ghana CTS had received the necessary training on the system “and this engagement is to encourage you to support the CTS and demand that it is used at the police stations. Become a champion of the system by speaking to your leaders on social media and traditional media.”
Lauding the system, the communities shared the view that the Ghana CTS could be effective should the corporate sector, including the telecommunication companies, provide logistical support such as free or subsidised and reliable internet services to the justice institutions using the CTS.
Other views they shared included the inclusion of CTS in the training curriculum for justice institutions, institutional heads designating officers to capture data into the system and lastly, institutional heads must hold staff accountable for the use of the Ghana CTS.
To decongest the courts and police stations of civil cases that could be resolved amicably using similar alternative means, Innocent Adamadu encouraged the gatherings to patronise the legitimate services of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) centres in their communities.
He referenced that in Ghana, ADR is regulated by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act, 2010 (Act 798), adding “This Act was passed in 2010 to facilitate and encourage out-of-court settlement of disputes. The aim is to help ease congestion in the courts, a situation that affects access to justice in the country.”
He mentioned negotiation, mediation, arbitration and conciliation as some of the methods the ADR practitioners employ to resolve cases before them.
He added: “There is also the court-connected ADR, where for example, a case before a court can be referred to the ADR for resolution and this may happen when the judge rules that part or all of the case before the court can be resolved through ADR, and the Judicial Service has ADR practitioners attached to various courts for this purpose.
“The resolution of such cases by the ADR is sent back to the court, which is clothed with the authority to pronounce a sentence.”
The advantages parties have at the ADR over the courts include the promotion of friendliness and the preservation of the privacy of parties, and parties in the conflict choose the time, venue and pace of the resolution.
Again, the ADR is cheaper and faster than the court, it is less formal and parties involved mostly choose who presides over their disputes.