ARAP's support has continued to our partner stakeholders by facilitating a number of key activities over the past three months. Many positive movements continue to strengthen the accountability, rule of law and anti-corruption efforts by many institutions throughout Ghana.
ARAP Activities: Disclosure Trainings
Over 26-29 March ARAP facilitated a training for the Legal Aid Commission (LAC) on Pre-trial Disclosure and Supreme Court Practice and Procedures. This followed a critical change in interpretation by the Supreme Court of Article 19 of the Constitution, concerning the delivery of legal aid. Practice Directions on this subject were therefore delivered to ensure adherence by the Courts and practitioners, especially legal aid lawyers.
This workshop aimed to update the LAC personnel knowledge and equip them to be able to manage criminal cases and related matters efficiently, including before the Supreme Court. Another objective was also, importantly, to help improve the quality of legal aid services to legal aid applicants and the general public.
An ongoing Practice Direction training that took place over February to May has been completed for staff of the Judicial Service. It focussed on a revision of procedures relating to the way of working in case management. Following the Practice Direction coming into effect in November 2018, the training was crucial to ensure its effectiveness throughout the Judiciary.
The Practice Direction works to ensure that criminal cases are resolved fairly and efficiently. ARAP supported the training series which was delivered to 108 High Court Judges, 67 Circuit Judges and 181 from the Magistracy from all regions across Ghana. They can now, in mind of the new Practice Direction, fully understand their role and what is expected of them; manage their caseload and ensure cases are concluded as expeditiously as possible; understand the Case Management Conference and how it fits into the trial process.
Over 16-17 May, a training on Disclosure Guidelines for all Attorney General Prosecutors took place. This followed a number of major decisions taken by the Supreme Court during 2018, which would change years of practice in Ghana’s Criminal Justice System. The Office of the Attorney General (the main actor in the Criminal Justice Sector) with ARAP’s support drafted, validated and printed the Disclosure Guidelines for Prosecutors.
These new Guidelines were presented to all prosecutors from across the country at the training, to ensure a full understanding of the scope and effect of the decisions in their application during criminal trials. The aim of the workshops was to implement these Guidelines vis a vis the Practice Directions issued by the Chief Justice, and develop common strategies, procedures, formats, standard forms etc. for practical application.
The workshop also focused on developing strategies to train other stakeholder Institutions in the Criminal Justice Sector such as GPS Prosecutors, EOCO Prosecutors and EPA Prosecutors to help undertake disclosure in their cases.
Environmental Prosecution Manual Completed
Over 13-15 May, ARAP helped to facilitate the validation of the Environmental Prosecution Manual. Commissioned earlier this year with support from the Directorate of Prosecutions of the Office of the Attorney General, the Manual was drafted to support the EPA, GPS, Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s Department (Prosecution Division and Regional State Attorneys) to effectively and efficiently prosecute environmental crimes.
This followed the development of a draft Points to Prove by ARAP’s Prosecutions Adviser in late 2018, to assist investigators to secure the necessary evidence to prove the elements of an offence and to reduce delays in investigations.
This workshop convened the above-mentioned Institutions to discuss, validate and finalise both the Manual for the Prosecution of Environmental Crimes in Ghana and the Points to Prove - ahead of a training on how to use both documents to support prosecutions. These documents were then printed and distributed among Prosecutors and Police.
High Level Complaints Management Workshop
On 11 April ARAP facilitated a workshop that aimed to help coordinate regulatory Institutions regarding environmental complaints. While receiving, managing and resolving complaints about environment-related crimes is an important activity of the EPA, other agencies, especially Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), also have significant related responsibilities under Ghanaian law.
During 2018, ARAP involved several agencies with environmental governance-related responsibilities to contribute to improving the management of complaints. A subsequent list of recommended actions targeted the EPA and other environment stakeholders including MMDAs. This high-level workshop, involving senior executives from these stakeholder Institutions, therefore worked to develop a process for the EPA and MMDAs to resolve jurisdictional issues around complaints.
The workshop concluded with the agreement that an MMDA and EPA office should work together on a pilot later in 2019 to identify and implement a new process for managing complaints. Certain issues were identified as important to support the success of the pilot, and key criteria were taken into consideration to select the pilot location: the Ga East Municipal Assembly and the associated EPA Amasaman Area Office.
GPS Social Media Workshop
On 10 May ARAP supported a workshop to validate a Social Media Plan for the Ghana Police Service (GPS). As part of the GPS efforts to strengthen communication with citizens through their digital channels (website, social media, WhatsApp), ARAP recruited a consultant to provide the Public Affairs Department (PAD) with dedicated capacity building on effective social media management and digital communication.
The workshop was designed to review, discuss and validate the draft Ghana Police Service Social Media Situational Report; provide technical expertise; recommend additional strategies to ensure the use of Social Media and Digital communication in a more pertinent and effective manner; make proposals on actions, tools and partnerships needed to implement social media strategy and plan more effectively.
The discussions and recommendations contributed greatly to the design of the GPS social media policy, strategy and implementation plan. They also aimed to contribute to helping the PAD be more responsive to citizens’ information requests in a robust interactive manner, using new digital communications tools in the GPS transformational agenda.