The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) have liberated three young men kept in the Sekondi prisons for petty offenses.
Ghana’s prisons are overcrowded by 52 percent against the estimated capacity, according to data from the Ghana Prison Service.
Meanwhile, a significant number of these prisoners were petty offenders who were mostly the poor and marginalized in society.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the problem because prisons are usually places with a high concentration of people deprived of their liberty in confined spaces.
The prisoners cannot do social distancing and have restricted access to hygiene and healthcare, posing a serious risk to the prisoners and the prison officers themselves. The state also has to spend scarce resources/money to take care of the inmates in the prisons daily.
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) Africa office, with the support of OSIWA, as part of its project called ‘Increasing Advocacy for the Decriminalization of Petty Offences Through COVID-19 Response Interventions’, is paying the court-imposed fines of some petty offenders in Ghana’s prisons for their release.
Ms Eva Ankrah, the Executive Director of Hurds Foundation told the Ghana News Agency that it was to help decongest Ghana’s already overcrowded prisons, and also part of CHRI’s advocacy to decriminalise petty offenses in Ghana.
She said the two organisations have paid for the fines of the three petty offenders as well as facilitated their sojourn to their respective communities.
She admonished them to start a new life leaving the past behind as they reunited with their families.
ASP Eines Akligoh, in charge of inmates’ welfare, was full of gratitude to the organizations for the gesture.
He said, “these are productive young men who cannot waste their potentials here”
Source: Modern Ghana