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The Director of Legal Aid Ghana, Mr Yahaya Al-hassan, yesterday gave an assurance that the Legal Aid Scheme would provide assistance for all who suffered injustice as a result of corruption or incompetence by actors in the justice delivery system.

He said the right to justice was so fundamental to all humanity that threats to it, perceived or real, had dire consequences which no society could adequately prepare for.

Mr Al-Hassan gave the assurance at a news conference organised in Accra by the Legal Aid Scheme to launch the 2015 edition of Legal Aid Week.

He said the cost of a failed justice system was even more pronounced in the criminal justice arena where not only property but, more particularly, life and liberty were at risk.

He said to secure the right to justice, individuals had a responsibility to prevent others from violating their rights and those of others and apprehend those they found committing violations for immediate presentation to the police.

He also indicated that individuals had to provide assistance for the police in their gathering of evidence and presentation of the evidence to a court of competent jurisdiction.

Exercise rights responsibly

Mr Al-Hassan said in exercising that and other responsibilities, there was the need to appreciate that all were human and could make mistakes.

He said that was why even when the police had investigated a matter and believed that upon the evidence available to them the person apprehended had committed an offence, it was still necessary to present the suspect and the evidence to an impartial court to examine the evidence and pronounce upon it.

Mr Al-Hassan said over and above the responsibilities of the citizen was the responsibility of the police to prevent crime, and where they failed to apprehend the perpetrators, investigate the suspicions and, where appropriate, cause the suspect to be prosecuted with the presentation of the evidence obtained in the investigation.

He said a person was a criminal under the law only when he/she had been pronounced so by a court of competent jurisdiction.

Constitutional rights

For his part, the Board Chairman of the Legal Aid Scheme, Mr Justice Julius Ansah, said the process of determining the guilt or otherwise of a suspect after investigation was to present him before a court of competent jurisdiction as an accused person.

He said the accused was required to examine the provided evidence against him and demonstrate falsehoods and improbability of the evidence provided.

He said to arrive at the guilt of a person, the Constitution guaranteed the right of all accused persons, irrespective of their social or economic standing, to equality before the law, a fair trial and protection against torture and other forms of inhuman treatment.

He said to the extent that the criminal justice system was formal and invariably technical, the Constitution entitled all persons arrested, restricted or detained in the cause of criminal justice delivery to a lawyer of their choice.

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