The Ghanaian government will consider the introduction of non-custodial sentences which use community service programmes to reform petty crime offenders, says President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

Announcing this here Thursday, he said the reforms would serve the dual purpose of providing the appropriate punishment for an offence, while getting some public good out of the service that would be required of the convict.

“My government will closely consider these, and all the other proposals that have been advocated for years, and fashion out a policy framework that will lead to the complete overhaul and reformation of the criminal justice system of Ghana,” President Akufo-Addo stated.

The remand prisoner problem, for instance, had bedeviled the administration of justice for far too long, and therefore decisive action had to be taken to end that vicious cycle once and for all,

President Akufo-Addo said in a speech read on his behalf by Education Minister Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh at the opening of a two-day conference of the Faculty of Law of the University of Professional Studies here.

The conference was organized as part of activities to mark Ghana’s 60th Independence anniversary and was held under the theme “Ghana @ 60: Evolution of Law, Democratic Governance, Human Rights and Future Prospects”.

President Akufo-Addo said: “Another area of our law over which we must all bow our heads in collective shame, is our failure to hold public office-holders to account, especially as it relates to corruption.

“Corruption, undoubtedly, therefore, remains the bane of the economic development and progress of our nation.”

The President said the proliferation of corrupt public officials for example, had severely weakened the legitimacy, effectiveness and efficiency of State institutions, and most importantly destroyed the trust relationship that must exist between the government and the people.

“It is not surprising, therefore, that Ghanaians are increasingly distrustful of government and state institutions,” he said.

Sadly, President Akufo-Addo noted, corruption was merely categorised as a misdemeanour by virtue of section 239 of the Criminal Offence Act, 1960 (Act 29).

“As I have always noted, and I will reiterate here, public service is just what its name suggests: ‘public service.’ It is, therefore, not a place for one to illegally enrich oneself at the expense of the country, and my government will not tolerate or countenance such criminal conduct from public office holders,” the President said.

He explained that in that regard, the Legislative Reform Agenda of the Government included the amendment of section 239 of Act 29, to make corruption and other related offences a felony, rather than the mere misdemeanour, that it currently was.