Crime Check Foundation pushes for reform of statutes
The Crime Check Foundation (CCF) hosted an outreach workshop on statute reform for vagrants at the Accra Metropolitan Assembly on June 17, 2021.
A project consultant at CCF, Cosmos Kwame Akorli in a brief address
stressed the need for vagrants, including market women, head porters, hawkers, among others, to be aware of the regulations and their importance.
Meanwhile, CCF lawyer Doris Bangu called on metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to consider certain amendments to their statutes that generally target the poor.
Changing laws to accommodate the petty offender is in the interest of national development, she said.
She added that when the punishment provided by the assemblies is reformist, offenders will be forced to engage in community service rather than throwing them in jail if they do not pay the fine.
“The essence of this project is to seek alternative methods of punishment for people who violate these laws even if they (the laws) are for good, they are not criminals in the sense of theft, murder and other serious offenses that are felonies. “
“The MMDAs are those in the locality who make the orders and you prescribe the penalties for them; if they violate the offenses and they go to court, the courts are required to impose the penalties so if we want non-deprivation freedom, then we have to amend the laws so that they can reflect and this is what the CCF and OSIWA are advocating, ”Ms. Bangu stressed.
MMDAs pass regulations such as fines and penalties that these vagrants are unable to pay and end up in jail.
A vagrant is a homeless person without regular work who thus moves from one place to another. They generally live by begging or hawking in the street.
The awareness workshop that is part of the Crime Check Foundation’s Decriminalization of Laws and Advocacy on Vagrancy (DVLA) project and funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) is pushing for some form of non-criminal punishment. deprivation of liberty or community service to decongest Ghana suffocated prisons while educating people in precarious situations about their rights
To encourage participants to take action, a video showing the deplorable and inhumane conditions of the prisoners was shown; it is a matter of reminding all parties, including assemblies, to reconsider the penalties imposed on vagrants.
Workshop participants included chief porters, people with disabilities, market women, landowners, assembly members and some officials from the Accra Metropolitan Assembly.
The one-year project will be rolled out in 12 metropolitan assemblies in three regions: Greater Accra, Ashanti and Central.
“We started with the mapping, and we are engaging with the various district assemblies in the selected areas and the leadership of the vagabonds.”
The project will educate 1200 vagrants on their rights and duties to avoid any misunderstanding with the assemblies.
“In order not to give the impression that we incite vagrants against district assemblies and central government, we will also inform them of their duties as patriotic citizens,” said the executive director of the Crime Check Foundation, Ibrahim. Oppong Kwarteng.
Monitoring and evaluation
To monitor the progress and effectiveness of the project, a contact center will be created after outreach to address the concerns of vagrants within the partner organization, Crime Check Foundation.
The project will run from May 2021 to May 2022.